Trump’s foreign drug price controls return

July 24, 2020
We’re starting the weekend with a win for BIO members: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to regulate proxy advisers more closely, meaning members will be able to fight back against corporate activists. We’ll dig into this more on Monday. In the…

We’re starting the weekend with a win for BIO members: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to regulate proxy advisers more closely, meaning members will be able to fight back against corporate activists. We’ll dig into this more on Monday.

In the meantime, we have breaking news on Trump’s plans to announce foreign price controls for prescription drugs, as well as a refresher on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ahead of the law’s 30th anniversary. And, since we’re at just about 100 days until the election, we have a special election update at the end. We’re clocking in at about 1,000 words, or 5 minutes.

Trump’s foreign drug price controls return

We hear that Trump’s planning to sign an executive order today tying the cost of certain Medicare drugs to what other countries pay. Here’s what we know—and a reminder that foreign price controls would be really bad for patients, especially right now.

What do we mean by "foreign price controls"? Basically, they would allow the federal government to set prices for certain prescription drugs covered by Medicare based on the prices paid in other countries with government-mandated health care restrictions. 

This isn’t the first time this has come up. In 2018, the administration proposed an International Pricing Index (IPI) for Medicare based on prices adopted by countries with single-payer health care pay. It has resurfaced now and then, but didn’t go anywhere.

But now, it's getting worse. The regulations would significantly reduce the Medicare Part B reimbursement rate for physician-administered therapies to the lowest price offered in any OECD country, which includes developed and developing countries. This is a far more extreme price control policy than the 2018 IPI.

We don’t know all the details yet—and “it is unclear how that would be put into practice, and if the new system can go through the regulatory process and be implemented before the election,” reports The Hill

But we do know foreign price controls would jeopardize patient access to new cures. The absence of price controls in the U.S. leads to more and newer medicines available sooner to Americans. Of the 74 cancer drugs launched between 2011-2018, 95% are available in the United States, compared with 74% in the UK, 49% in Japan, and 8% in Greece. 

And they would stifle investment in new cures. Analysis of similar proposals, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing plan (H.R. 3), found foreign price controls would result in many fewer new medicines coming to the market.

Trump’s own economic advisers agreed—saying H.R. 3 would make us miss out on as many as 100 new drugs over the next decade.

This would be especially detrimental to small biotechs researching innovative COVID-19 cures. H.R. 3 would have led to a 90% reduction in medicines developed by small U.S. biotechs—which drive 70% of all R&D, including for COVID-19.

Dan’s Deep Dive: Importing foreign price controls into Medicare would be detrimental to patients and to America’s scientists and researchers trying to develop new cures and treatments. Indeed, adopting foreign price controls when biotechnology researchers are working around the clock to fight COVID-19 is absolutely the wrong prescription. It will undermine investment in R&D, chill progress, and ultimately, hurt the very patients who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and other life-threatening diseases. We need to reject this misguided scheme and work on real solutions that will lower out-of-pocket costs for patients and continue to support the future development of cures and treatments for patients in need. – Dan Durham, BIO’s EVP for Health Policy


Happy 30th, ADA!

This Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has protected the rights of people with disabilities and driven forward patient-focused health care. Here’s a quick refresher on what it is and why it matters.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public,” says the ADA National Network

It was amended in 2008 to clarify and broaden the definition of “disability” to ensure more people would be protected from discrimination. 

The law continues to have an important impact on patients—and now, in the midst of a pandemic, “has been used to protect the rights of people with disabilities,” said John Tschida, Acting Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).

But more must be done: “There have been great leaps and bounds in promoting the rights of people with disabilities, since the Americans with Disabilities Act, largely because it passed. However, it is imperative to develop that next generation of leaders,” said James Weisman, President and CEO of the United Spinal Association.

Watch United Spinal Association member Ian Mackay talk about what the ADA means to him—from ensuring he has equal employment opportunities to allowing him to explore local trails in his community

The ADA is just one element of patient-focused health policy and care. BIO continues to work to ensure the needs of all patients, including those with disabilities, are factored into R&D, clinical trials, and related policy.

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Friday: Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Olympic runner and former Member of Congress Jim Ryun, then signing the executive orders on drug prices at 3 PM ET before heading to the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Senate Republicans and the White House couldn’t agree on the coronavirus aid package that was expected to be released yesterday; POLITICO has the details

Election Update: This weekend marks 100 days until the general election—and just as summer is heating up, so too are the races. In addition to the White House, control of both the House and Senate is on the line. As a starting point, 55 of the 535 total congressional seats are open, which means that, at minimum, 10% of Congress will be turning over.

Here’s a quick run-down on those 55 seats:

Appointed to Another Office 2 2 0
Running for Another Office 5 3 2
Defeated in Primary 6 4 2
Deceased 3 1 2
Resigned 6 5 1
Retiring 33 26 7
55 41 14
*As of July 23, 2020

Stay tuned for additional election updates as November draws near, and tell us what you want to know about the races!

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