Legislative Update: Week of May 13, 2019

May 13, 2019


Last week, the Senate Ways and Means released their version of the FY2020 Budget that closely mirrored the language in Governor Baker’s proposal and the initial House budget. Outside Sections 4 & 39 contained in the budget would allow the state to set the price for a prescription drug if the drug’s manufacturer does not agree with “voluntary” additional discounts. It also allows HHS to use an independent 3rd party, such as ICER, during negotiations to determine a drug’s value, while also including a public posting of the drug price, a public HPC hearing in which the manufacturer is forced to testify, and a referral to the Attorney General if a company fails to comply. MassBio President & CEO, Robert K. Coughlin, issued a statement on the proposed budget and is in strong support of Amendment 654, filed by Senator Joseph Boncore.

At the Federal level, CMS released on Wednesday a final rule requiring prescription drug and biological product direct-to-consumer television advertisements to include the list price of the drug. The final rule applies to prescription drugs and biological products paid “through or under Medicare or Medicaid,” if the price is “equal to or greater than $35 for a month’s supply or the usual course of therapy,” and requires disclosure of the Wholesale Acquisition Cost. Additionally, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the factors affecting costs for prescription drugs and the role of manufacturers, PBMs, insurers, providers, pharmacies and patients. Witnesses from across the supply chain, including biopharma, PBMs, and payers testified on the value they bring to patients and offered recommendations for reducing prescription drug prices that involved enhancing transparency, ensuring rebates and discounts are passed to patients, reducing list prices, and enhancing competition.


MassBio announced this week its legislative advocacy campaign in support of Amendment 654. Through this campaign, Massachusetts residents who work in, or benefit from, the life sciences can email their State Senator directly and urge them to support Amendment 654 that will significantly modify and fix many of the major issues with Outside Sections 4 and 39 in the MA Senate proposal. The Senate debate will begin Tuesday, May 21, and we hope the Senate will weigh the same facts and reach a similar conclusion as was done in the House with Amendment 1057.

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