ICYMI: In anticipation of today's Cures markup, E&C releases an updated draft while Pew launches a new Rx initiative

May 14, 2015

The House Energy and Commerce Committee released an updated draft of the 21st Century Cures bill last night in a last minute effort to address concerns over drug exclusivity, interoperability and tele health before today’s markup. However, many organizations are still concerned about Congress’ lack of legislation to address high drug costs. Pew Charitable Trusts has decided to take the matter into their own hands by launching an initiative to help develop policies focused on lowering specialty drug costs.

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Morning Consult: “Lawmakers Unveil New Cures Draft Before Thursday Markup

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday released an updated draft of a bill that would overhaul parts of the Food and Drug Administration, adding more details on provisions on drug exclusivity, interoperability and telehealth ahead of a subcommittee markup tomorrow.

The updated legislation almost entirely removes controversial exclusivity provisions that were proposed in January. That language would’ve given brand-name pharmaceutical companies a longer period of exclusive market share before cheaper, generic versions of drugs could be sold. Democrats and interest groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons raised concerns that extending exclusivity could make new drugs unaffordable.

“Longer monopoly patents will block generic competition, limiting access and increasing drug costs,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a member of the panel’s Subcommittee on Health, said last week in an email. “Exclusivity rights are already afforded to many approved drugs to provide incentives for innovation.”

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InsideHealthPolicy.com: “Pew Launches Specialty Rx Initiative; Congress Sidesteps Rx Spending (subscription required)

Pew Charitable Trusts has launched an initiative on specialty drugs that includes work on policies to manage the often high prices of those medicines, said Allan Coukell, Pew’s director for health programs. Drug prices are a rising concern for the public, yet Congress is focused on speeding drug approvals, and senators didn’t vote on a single amendment to control drug prices during the budget debate in late March, even though the primary purpose of that so-called “vote-a-rama” was to set up political agendas for 2016 campaigns.