What We’re Reading: Drug Price Negotiations; Biden Announces Cancer Research Initiative; PBM Reform Bill


Democratic House forerunners present legislation to expand drug cost lowering procedures; President Joe Biden presents an advanced cancer research push; a Senate panel advances a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) reform bill.

House Democrats Present Bill to Increase Drug Price Negotiations

Democratic House leaders presented legislation Wednesday to expand on the drug cost lowering guidelines included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), according to The Hill. The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program, which is authorized through the IRA, has encountered multiple legal challenges from the pharmaceutical industry and efforts aimed at expanding the government’s ability to negotiate may cause stronger pushback. Should the bill pass, it would apply the drug price provisions in the IRA to private insurance plans by adjusting Title XI of the Social Security Act and would include the drug price negotiation program and the inflation rebates that deter companies from increasing prices faster than the rate of inflation. The provisions would go into effect in 2029, if passed.

Biden Presents Cancer Research Initiative

President Joe Biden’s administration is broadcasting the first cancer-focused push Thursday under its Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, whose goal is to assist doctors in more easily identifying cancerous cells vs healthy tissue during surgery and improve patient outcomes, reported The Associated Press. The launch of the Precision Surgical Interventions program will also include soliciting ideas from public and private sectors to discover how to radically improve cancer outcomes over the next few decades by creating better surgical interventions to fight cancer. The program, along with the Cancer Moonshot, is part of a hoped-for bipartisan effort that also touches on improving health in veterans and facilitating access to mental health services.

Senate Committee Advances PBM Bill

On Wednesday, Finance Committee Senate members came close to unanimously passing a bill to crack down on pharmacy benefit members (PBMs), but they were unable to make headway on some of the more difficult policies, according to STAT. The bill would present more transparency into the business practices of PBMs, make sure they aren’t skimming funds they send to insurers, forbid them from overcharging insurers, and make sure that certain Medicare fees aren’t dependent on the price of a drug. Only Sen Ron Johnson (R, Wisconsin) voted no, saying that the bill would add extra government obstruction, reported The Hill.

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