What do the Princeton Tigers and patients fighting for lower drug prices have in common? They’re both underdogs that recently scored against powerful opponents. 🏀
Welcome To The Week In Review.
- Much More Than A Ban On QALYS
- On Friday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed H.R. 485 out of committee on a party line vote with Republicans voting in favor of an amended version of the bill which aims to block the ability of government and the private sector to use comparative effectiveness research (CER) measures to assess the value of medications for patients. Ahead of the hearing, P4ADNow sent a letter to the committee, urging members to oppose the bill unless elements to preserve CER measures that value all lives equally were included in the final version. “At the end of the day, there is no single factor more important in arriving at an appropriate price for a new drug than the value of the drug to patients,” the letter, signed by P4ADNow’s David Mitchell, states. Ranking Member Frank Pallone said he couldn’t support the bill without “assurances that nothing in the legislation would go beyond banning the use of QALYs or could be used to delay or disrupt the implementation of the drug price negotiations in the Inflation Reduction Act.” We agree and urge members of the House to oppose the bill on the House floor unless changes to address Rep. Pallone’s concerns are made. As David states in the letter: “It is axiomatic that to stimulate and reward innovative new drug development, we should pay more for high value drugs and less for low value drugs.” We need comparative effectiveness research to do that. — (House Committee on Energy and Commerce, P4ADNow, Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats)
2. Pandemic Profiteering: Moderna CEO Fails To Justify Vaccine Price Hikes
- The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee asked Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel to justify the company’s planned price hike of its COVID-19 mRNA vaccine at a hearing this week. Spoiler: He wasn’t able to. Senator Patty Murray laid it out clearly: Taxpayers invested $12 billion into the vaccine, which costs $3 to make, and now Moderna is planning to increase the price 400 percent to $130 per dose. Indiana Senator Mike Braun called the planned price increase “preposterous.” Let’s be clear: Taxpayers funded the majority of early-stage research and drug corporations like Moderna swooped in at the last minute when there was an opportunity to line CEO’s pockets with record profits. “As soon as Moderna started to receive billions of dollars from the federal government, Mr. Bancel literally became a billionaire overnight and is now worth over $4 billion,” Senate HELP Chairman Bernie Sanders highlighted at the hearing. “Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have received about $100 billion in revenue from COVID-19 vaccines in the first two years of sales — certainly a generous return on their own investments by any standards,” wrote Hussain S. Lalani, Sarosh Nagar, Jerry Avorn, and Aaron S. Kesselheim in the Boston Globe. Try as Bancel might, we won’t let Big Pharma take credit for life-saving vaccines developed on the back of taxpayers, nor will we stand for price gouging that hurts patients’ pockets. — (Senate HELP Committee, Senator Patty Murray, Roll Call, Washington Post, CNN, Boston Globe)
3. The Hill Fights For Future Reforms
- Washington was busy this week working to shed light on the actions of members of the drug supply chain. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Mike Braun re-introduced the Fair Accountability and Innovative Research (FAIR) Drug Pricing Act, bipartisan legislation to require transparency for drug companies that increase drug prices. “This bill takes a step in the right direction by bringing much needed transparency and accountability to our broken drug price system, especially the challenge of unjustified price hikes and high launch prices,” P4ADNow’s Sarah Kaminer Bourland remarked. While answering questions for the Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to addressing pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs): “The administration is working on PBMs because we know that more and more, there is a growing concern that the middlemen in the process of getting drugs from manufacturer to patient are skimming off a good deal of the money that’s being generated.” Chairman Ron Wyden announced that the committee will hold a hearing on PBMs next week. And the Senate Commerce Committee passed the PBM Transparency Act of 2023 — another example of Congress continuing to scrutinize and crack down on PBMs. Keep up the good work, Congress! — (Senator Tammy Baldwin, Axios, Senate Committee on Finance, Fierce Healthcare)
BONUS: People on Medicare are continuing to feel relief thanks to the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act, including the $35 monthly insulin copay caps and free vaccines.
Have a great weekend, everyone!