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Public Policy Newsletter Article

Energy & Commerce Committee Holds First Hearing on HR3

  • 2021-05-20T15:00:00.000+0000
  • Author: Laure Fabrega

On May 4, 2021, the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing "Negotiating a Better Deal: Legislation to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs," focused on drug pricing legislation. Although the hearing considered eight pieces of legislation (see list below), it mostly focused on H.R.3.

The witnesses included: Therese Ball, Patient; Michael A. Carrier, Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School; Rachel Sachs, Associate Professor of Law, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law; Gaurav Gupta, M.D., M.S.E., Founder, Ascendant BioCapital, and Khrystal K. Davis, J.D., Rare Disease Caregiver & Patient Advocate, Texas Rare Alliance Founding President.

Ms. Ball described her experience not being able to afford her medication. Mr. Gupta criticized H.R.3 for only focusing on drug manufacturers and leaving out hospitals, which represent a larger share of the health care system, and Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs). He also explained that drug prices and patient out-of-pocket costs are different, and the bill would only help patients with high deductibles, while hurting all patients if they don’t have access to innovative products.

Ms. Davis explained how the use of the quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) metrics in foreign countries discriminates against patients with rare diseases and how H.R.3 would import these discriminatory standards. Lastly. Ms. Sachs defended the bill, arguing that it would help reduce prices and not have a negative impact on neither innovation nor patient access to medicines.

Democratic Members mostly spoke in support of the bill, focusing on the cost of medicines, the $500 billion in “savings” generated by the bill, and the need to invest in research at the National Institutes of Health. Of note, Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) expressed concerns with the impact of the bill on innovation and jobs, and the need to address the other components of the health care system.

Republicans, on the other hand, expressed strong concerns with the impact of H.R.3 on innovation, patient access to medicines, the punitive nature of the excise tax if manufacturers don’t comply with an imposed price, the lack of bipartisanship in crafting the bill, and the need to focus on other actors of the health care system, especially PBMs. They also promoted H.R.19 as a bipartisan alternative to H.R.3.

Biocom California has strongly opposed the measure and continues to lobby against it.

Legislation considered:
H.R. 3, the "Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act"
H.R. 19, the "Lower Costs, More Cures Act of 2021"
H.R. 153, the "Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2021"
H.R. 2815, the "Bolstering Innovative Options to Save Immediately on Medicines Act" or the "BIOSIM Act"
H.R. 2831, the "Prompt Approval of Safe Generic Drugs Act"
H.R. 2843, the "Stop The Overuse of Petitions and Get Affordable Medicines to Enter Soon Act of 2021" or the "STOP GAMES Act"
H.R. 2846, to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to require PDP sponsors of a prescription drug plan under part D of hte Medicare program that use a formulary to include certain generic drugs and biosimilar biological products on such formulary, and for other purposes
H.R. 2853, the "Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics Act of 2021" or the "BLOCKING Act"