Legislative Update: Week of April 12, 2021

Apr 12, 2021


Last Friday, President Biden released his initial fiscal year 2022 discretionary funding budget request. Included in the request is $6.5 billion to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to focus on developing cures for some of the world’s greatest unmet medical needs – cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

Also last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that found biopharma spending on R&D increased by nearly 50% between 2015-2019, outpacing similar industries. The report also notes that small and emerging biotech companies “with annual revenues of less than $500 million now account for more than 70% of the nearly 3,000 drugs in Phase III clinical trials,” and that congressional action on drug pricing will likely lead to fewer new drugs reaching the market. The report can be accessed, here.

Additionally, In response to Governor Baker’s virtual press conference with Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on prescription drug costs last week, MassBio’s EVP Zach Stanley released the below statement:

“Considering that less than two weeks ago CHIA’s annual report found that prescription drugs are not a leading driver of healthcare costs in Massachusetts, it’s astonishing that the Governor is again trying to push his tired proposal on prescription drug price controls. In practice, this policy would do nothing to reduce costs for patients but would inhibit the biopharmaceutical industry’s ability to develop innovative, life-changing treatments and cures – like the COVID-19 vaccines, which Massachusetts residents are currently benefitting from. It bears repeating that this policy is unnecessary and ignores the numerous, existing tools the Massachusetts state government can use to reduce prescription drug spending. We look forward to working with legislative leadership in the House and Senate to identify common sense solutions that help patients struggling with growing out-of-pocket costs and high deductibles.” 


Congress returns from a two-week recess this week, and are expected to begin taking up legislation surrounding immigration, President Biden’s infrastructure and tax plan, the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes, and more.

In Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management will hold an informational hearing on Tuesday with the Committee on Public Health to discuss the COVID-19 variants that are continuing to spread throughout Massachusetts. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, Medical Director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center, and Dr. William Hanage, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health will join to share their insight. And on Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to release its version of the fiscal year 2022 budget. Debate on the budget is expected to begin on April 26.

On Monday, MassBio announced the two keynote speakers for its annual meeting, the State of Possible Conference, taking place virtually on May 19, 2021: Tal Zaks, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, Moderna, and Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton, Founder and President, Women of Color in Pharma. Interested attendees can register online, here.

See all MassBio News