What We're Reading: Democrats to Release Drug Pricing Bill; Food Stamp Cuts; Secrecy on OxyContin

AJMC Staff

House Democrats to Release Bill to Lower Drug Prices in September

A healthcare adviser to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said that House Democrats will unveil a bill to lower drug prices in September; the bill will include the power for Medicare to negotiate drug prices, according to Wendell Primus. The negotiated prices will apply to private insurers as well, The Hill reported. Other aspects of the bill will include a tax on drug companies if an agreement cannot be reached with Medicare, as well as an arbitration process to help resolve disputes.

US to Cut Food Stamp Benefits for 3 Million People

On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture will unveil regulations to cut food stamp benefits for 3 million people, ending the leeway of states to automatically enroll residents who receive welfare benefits. The proposed change for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program comes as the administration has agreed to a deal to lift caps on federal spending, Bloomberg reported. House Republicans tried to cut benefits last year, but the Senate rejected the move. The proposed changes would only allow automatic enrollment of people who receive welfare benefits worth at least $50 a month on an ongoing basis for at least 6 months. Health experts have warned that children in food-insecure households are at greater risk for various health problems.

Purdue, FDA Silent About Whether Reformulated OxyContin Reduced Abuse 

Neither Purdue Pharma nor the FDA will release data about whether reformulated OxyContin, designed to prevent abuse, is actually achieving that goal, The Associated Press reported. When the FDA approved reformulated OxyContin about 10 years ago, it told the company the drug would be evaluated on whether the new version decreased cases of addiction, overdose, and death. A pain expert who was leading the advisory panel looking at that question until earlier this year said their requests for information was denied “40 or 50 times.”

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