Legislative Update: Week of October 19, 2020

Oct 19, 2020


On Wednesday, Governor Baker filed a revised FY2021 Budget. Of interest to the biopharma industry are outside sections 43, Excise Tax on Opioids & Penalty on Excessive Price Increases and 104, Direct Negotiations for Rebates on Certain Drugs and Non-Drug Products. Outside section 43 would impose an excise tax on opioids distributed in the Commonwealth and impose a penalty on drug manufacturers that increase drug prices excessively. And, outside section 104 would allow MassHealth to directly negotiate rebate agreements for drugs not subject to the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and for certain non-drug products such as durable medical equipment. MassBio President & CEO Bob Coughlin issued the below statement on the budget proposal:

“At the same time that more than 90 Massachusetts life sciences companies are leading the way in developing new tests, therapies, and vaccines for COVID-19, the Governor is reheating an old proposal to impose price controls on prescription drugs. This policy is unnecessary and sends the wrong message to biotech companies here hoping to successfully bring new drugs to market. Massachusetts state government already has numerous ways to reduce prescription drug spending, especially through the new authority granted just last year by the Legislature allowing MassHealth to directly negotiate with drug manufacturers for additional discounts and rebates. It also ignores the realities that prescription drug spending is trending down year over year in Massachusetts and nationally after accounting for discounts and rebates. MassBio urges the House and Senate to again reject this measure and instead seek out public policies that will encourage further innovation from our world-leading life sciences cluster while also ensuring patients have access to breakthrough therapies.”


On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) will hold a virtual version of its annual cost trends hearing. This year, the hearing will run for half a day with a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on the health care system and advancing equity.

The Massachusetts Biotech Caucus and MassBio host a one-hour program on Wednesday, All Hands On Deck:  The Fight Against COVID-19 In Massachusetts, highlighting some of the amazing work that is being done by the life sciences industry, much of it right here in Massachusetts, to test, treat, and immunize the world from this unprecedented public health threat. Learn more and register, here. Also in Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means will hold a virtual budget hearing on Governor Baker’s revised FY2021 budget on Wednesday at 12pm

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on coronavirus vaccine studies. It is very unlikely that COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers will submit data ahead of this meeting, but the committee is expected to be asked about what additional research must be done to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine; the use of vaccines in under-studied or at-risk populations; safety evaluations for any granted emergency authorization; and the likely durability of any protective benefit shown.

Early voting for the November 3rd presidential election began October 17th in Massachusetts. You can find your Early Voting location and times, here.

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