Debate about controlling drug pricing is on the legislative agenda as Democrats weigh whether to include it in the new infrastructure package. The debate about allowing the government to negotiate drug prices, which was largely derailed by the pandemic, was brought back to life by one of Big Pharma’s most vocal critics, Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders scheduled a hearing in the new Congress on drug pricing, which got the attention of Pharma industry lobbyists who oppose the measure.
Democrats are looking at H.R. 3, the bill introduced by Elijah E. Cummings that passed the house in late 2019 but never made it to the Senate. The Lower Drug Cost Now Act, as the bill was called, would have allowed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate the price on expensive medications that don’t have generic alternatives. It would also have capped out-of-pocket cost Part D beneficiaries would pay yearly for prescription medications at $2,000.00. Further measures would have mandated rebates by drug manufacturers that raised prices more than the rate of inflation.
With the Democratic majority in both houses, there is a chance the bill, or one similar to it, could be passed despite the pharmaceutical industry’s opposition to what they see as price controls that would limit future research and development.