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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Biden-backed drug pricing proposal hits hurdle in Congress

US politics & coverage updates

Joe Biden’s hopes of securing laws that might permit the US authorities to barter decrease drug costs for seniors was dealt a blow after the measure didn’t advance in a House of Representatives committee vote on Wednesday.

Although the overwhelming majority of Democrats on Capitol Hill help the laws, three reasonable members of the president’s celebration on the House vitality and commerce committee opposed it, together with the panel’s Republicans — sufficient to scupper the invoice.

The provision’s failure to maneuver ahead is a major victory for pharmaceutical corporations, who’ve lengthy opposed efforts in Congress to permit Medicare, the federal government healthcare programme for aged Americans, to barter decrease prices for medication.

It might additionally complicate Democratic efforts in Congress to pay for Biden’s $3.5tn social spending and local weather change invoice, for the reason that prescription drug worth discount plan was anticipated to generate billions of {dollars} in authorities financial savings.

However, the measure should resurface in completely different varieties throughout later levels of the negotiation. Senate Democrats are crafting their very own laws to decrease drug costs for seniors, and a number of rounds of talks with the White House lie forward.

The transfer by Scott Peters of California, Kathleen Rice of New York and Kurt Schrader of Oregon to dam the proposal on drug costs highlights the rising energy and affect of reasonable Democrats in shaping laws, which is creating complications for the celebration’s congressional leaders and the Biden administration.

Debra DeShong, govt vice-president for public affairs on the drug firm foyer PhRMA, stated the discussions in the House had revealed main worries in regards to the Democratic plan that leaders in the chamber had “ignored”.

“This should be a strong signal to the House leadership that there is broad support for lowering costs for patients without sacrificing access to new cures and treatments,” she stated. “We should put patients first by pursuing common sense, bipartisan solutions that will lower out-of-pocket costs while preserving access and future innovation.”

The battle over drug costs comes as US drugmakers hope to rebuild their public reputations by offering life-saving Covid-19 vaccines following years of political criticism as a result of US opioid epidemic.

The Biden administration forecast that its reforms might generate half a trillion {dollars} in funds financial savings over a decade. People taking costly medication for most cancers and different life-threatening illnesses might see their annual out-of-pocket prices fall by 1000’s of {dollars}, the White House stated final month.

Henry Connelly, communications director for House speaker Nancy Pelosi, stated on Twitter that polling “consistently shows immense bipartisan support” for the plan, “including overwhelming majorities of Republicans and independents who are fed up with Big Pharma charging Americans so much more than they charge for the same medicines overseas”.

Connelly stated decreasing drug prices would “remain a cornerstone” of Democrats’ financial agenda.

But Bernie Sanders, the leftwing senator from Vermont, was fuming. “The pharmaceutical industry has spent more than $4.5 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions over the past 20 years. That’s why we pay the highest prices on Earth for prescription drugs. Enough is enough. Democrats must have the courage to defeat their greed,” he wrote on Twitter.

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