The U.S. has a little beef with Europe

February 27, 2020
If you missed President Trump’s press conference yesterday on the COVID-19 coronavirus, here’s a recap and video, plus details on the announcement that Vice President Mike Pence will lead a task force to combat the spread and background on how this all happened. But,…

If you missed President Trump’s press conference yesterday on the COVID-19 coronavirus, here’s a recap and video, plus details on the announcement that Vice President Mike Pence will lead a task force to combat the spread and background on how this all happened.

But, believe it or not, #coronavirus is not the only news today. We’ve got the details on a new request regarding coverage for CAR T immunotherapy, as well as why the U.S. has beef with the EU over agriculture trade, in about 830 words, or 4 minutes.

The U.S. has a little beef with Europe

You might have noticed headlines lately about U.S.-EU agricultural trade, and specifically, the need for Europe to remove draconian regulations on American ag, as U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue explains in Euractiv—an essential move if we’re to work together to feed the world in a sustainable way.

What he says: Writing in independent European news outlet Euractiv, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue calls on the EU to “remove constraints to the adoption of innovative new approaches and technologies, including overly burdensome and unnecessary regulatory restrictions” on agriculture technology. 

The global population is growing—and while the United States has “embraced innovation and technology in agriculture to solve this challenge,” the EU continues to heavily regulate and even ban technology like genetically modified crops.   

But we must work together. Representing “the most productive farmers on the planet,” the U.S. and EU need to “work together to solve the next great challenge facing us, which is to produce enough food, with fewer inputs, to feed a growing world population,” he explains

Specifically, he touts environmental and economic benefits of “improved crop varieties and crop management practices” in the United States, and how technology has led to greater food security for the population and financial security for farmers. 

So, what's next? The U.S. and EU have been in a tit-for-tat trade war for a few years, though EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said he hoped the deal could be reached by March 18, according to reports. But agriculture is a big sticking point. 

And it looks like the EU might be making moves to speed up the ag biotech approval process, according to POLITICO Europe, though TBD.

Andrew’s Advice: Because of its market power, Europe’s regulatory system is a major barrier to entry for the biotechnology industry that prevents new technologies from being deployed around the world to the benefit of farmers, consumers, and the environment. The biotechnology industry needs a more efficient regulatory system in Europe that is better aligned with international rules and standards so that countries can better utilize biotechnology to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals. 

 Andrew Connor, BIO's Senior Manager of International Affairs


More Agriculture & Environment News: 

Bloomberg: Trump to pare biofuel waivers for refineries on court ruling
“Trump administration officials have decided to pare the number of oil refineries granted waivers from biofuel mandates…That approach means that only a handful of oil refineries—those that have consistently won exemptions since 2008—likely will qualify for the waivers going forward, down from dozens in recent years.”


A cure for CAR T coverage?

How can we increase patient access to cures in a concrete way? BIO has long advocated for the creation of a specific payment code for CAR T-cell immunotherapy so America’s seniors can access this groundbreaking cancer treatment—a model that would set the stage for other transformative medicines in the pipeline, too. And pharmaceutical manufacturers, patient groups, and provider groups agree.

Members of Congress are listening: 76 bipartisan U.S. Representatives sent a letter (H/T POLITICO Pro) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting a new, specific payment code for CAR T therapy.

What’s CAR T? Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy is a cancer treatment in which patients receive an infusion of genetically modified T-cells, which attack the cancer cells—and it’s been incredibly successful against certain blood cancers.

So, what are the Members of Congress asking for? For CMS to establish a Medicare Severity-Diagnosis Related Group, or MS-DRG, for the therapy, so there’s a permanent mechanism to cover it for seniors when the current new technology add-on payment (NTAP) expires on September 30, 2020.

What they’re saying: “Reimbursement remains a barrier to inpatient hospitals treating Medicare patients with CAR T-cell therapy, and these hospitals face a reimbursement cliff if CMS does not act to create a permanent payment mechanism by FY 2021. This reimbursement gap potentially leaves providers with large deficits, including the additional costs of care associated with furnishing CAR T-cell therapy, and will likely halt patient access.”

Why it matters: A specific payment rule for CAR T will not only help patients obtain this breakthrough treatment, but it will also serve as a model for how we reimburse future transformative medicines in the pipeline that have the ability to change the way we treat and cure our world’s deadliest and most debilitating diseases.
BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Thursday: He’s hosting a Black History Month reception at the White House.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House and Senate are in session. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation will hold a hearing on the coronavirus response. Meanwhile, House Energy & Commerce will look at the EPA's budget, while HHS Secretary Alex Azar continues to make the rounds, too.

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