What We're Reading: Drug Pricing Debate Among Dems; New Cigarette Alternative; Meth Use Surges

May 1, 2019

Progressive House Democrats press for a more aggressive remedy than arbitration to reduce drug prices; FDA permits the sale of a new cigarette alternative; use of methamphetamine surges in some parts of the United States.

Progressive Democrats Reject Arbitration for Fixing High Drug Prices

Yesterday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus urged Energy and Commerice Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr, D-NJ, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-MA, to support a bill allowing the government to strip drug companies of their monopolies if they refuse to set reasonable prices for expensive drugs, The Hill reported. Progressive House Democrats opposed a competing proposal that suggested an outside arbitrator should be brought in to help determine prices the government would pay for high-priced drugs, claiming a system of arbitration would be too weak. While lawmakers said the chairmen listened and expressed consideration for multiple ideas, they did not offer any of their own plans.

FDA to Allow Sales of Cigarette Alternative

The FDA will allow the tobacco giant, Phillip Morris, to sell a new cigarette alternative, named IQOS, which heats sticks of tobacco without burning them and creates a nicotine-infused aerosol, according to Associated Press. The FDA has not yet determined whether to allow the device to be marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes. Regulators stressed that IQOS is neither safe nor “FDA approved.” Studies have shown that the product produced fewer toxic byproducts than traditional combustible cigarettes.

Meth Use On the Rise

Use of methamphetamine has been surging in parts of the United States, NPR reported. As many as 70% of local law enforcement agencies in the West and Midwest have said meth is their biggest drug threat. However, these officials said policymakers in the nation’s capital have done little to address their concerns, considering the threat posed by the opioid epidemic has been receiving the majority of attention and funding. As a result, addiction treatment providers and first responders have been left struggling to handle the declining situation.