The CEOs of nine vaccine makers announced a pledge on Tuesday, outlining a united commitment to uphold the integrity of the scientific process as they work towards potential global regulatory filings and approvals of the first COVID-19 vaccines.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Senate Republicans unveiled a new $500 billion coronavirus relief bill. As drafted, the bill would extend unemployment benefits, reauthorize and extend the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) with further appropriated funds, address school funding, and add funding for the U.S. Post Office. The bill did not contain funding for another round of direct stimulus payments to individuals. Senate Democrats, who released a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, unanimously voted against the package on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance under the Public Relations and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to expand access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, once they become available. Under this guidance, state-licensed pharmacists and state-licensed or registered pharmacy interns acting under the supervision of the qualified pharmacist are authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to persons ages 3 or older.
In Massachusetts, Governor Baker announced on Wednesday that unemployed workers will begin to receive an additional $300 a week in benefits approved by federal authorities. The payments, which will be retroactive to August 1, serve as a replacement for the additional $600 a week unemployed workers had been relying on through July and will apply to both traditional unemployment applications and self-employed workers whose eligibility was expanded by the CARES Act.
And on Thursday, MassBio announced that over 160 CEOs representing the breadth of the life sciences signed its Open Letter 2.0 – The CEO Pledge for a More Equitable and Inclusive Life Sciences Industry. You can learn more about the pledge and view the list of signers, here.
President Trump issued a “most favored nations” executive order on Sunday that will force drug makers to offer their medicines to Medicare at the same price they do in other countries with comparable gross domestic product. An earlier version of this order only included Medicare Part B drugs, which are administered in doctors’ offices, but the version released on Sunday also applies to Part D drugs, which are sold in pharmacies.
The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) meets on Tuesday to discuss the agency’s new drug pricing review process, the final Standard Reporting Form released in August, and the process and framework for the HPC’s determination of whether the pricing of a drug, referred by MassHealth, is unreasonable or excessive relative to its value. The meeting will stream on the HPC’s YouTube channel at 12 pm.