Massachusetts’ FY 2021 Budget Conference Committee Report that was released on Thursday, includes language to extend the Copay Assistance Sunset to Jan 1, 2023 (H5164, Section 59), allowing drug manufacturers to provide commercially insured patients cost-sharing assistance through coupons or vouchers. The FY2021 Budget was enacted in both the House and Senate on Friday and sent to the Governor for his review. The Governor has until December 14th to sign, veto, or return with amendments. Also in Massachusetts, the House and Senate approved a police reform compromise bill 91-67 and 28-12, respectively. As drafted, “the legislation would create a new Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, a nine-member group that would serve as the state’s primary civil enforcement agency, with the power to certify officers for the first time in state history, oversee investigations into officer misconduct, and revoke an officers’ license for a range of misconduct.” It would also “ban choke holds, set new limits on so-called no-knock warrants, and codify standards for use of force.” The bill awaits the Governor’s signature.
With two COVID-19 vaccine candidates awaiting emergency use authorization (EUA), a CDC panel voted 13-1 on Tuesday to provide healthcare workers and long-term care residents the first COVID-19 vaccines once they are available to the public. However, prioritization will ultimately fall to the states who are finalizing their vaccine rollout plans. Governor Baker expects Massachusetts to receive 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the month.
On Friday, the Baker-Polito Administration submitted the Commonwealth’s initial vaccine order to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MassBio President & CEO Bob Coughlin sent a letter to the Baker Administration asking for consideration of certain biotechnology industry personnel who reside and/or work in the state to be considered as essential workers slated to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during the early phases of immunization.
On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden announced that he selected Massachusetts General Hospital’s chief of infectious disease, Rochelle Walensky, to lead the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Walensky is also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an expert on AIDS and HIV.
The FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research’s (CBER), Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will meet on Thursday to discuss Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate and determine if it should be granted emergency use authorization (EUA).