While the proposed American Health Care Act never made it to a vote, that doesn’t mean that Congress is done trying to regulate various aspects of the healthcare system. Recently a group of democrats proposed legislation that includes requirements for those who manufacture pharmaceutical products to disclose to the public manufacturing, marketing and research costs. Additionally, it would criminalize pay-for-delay methods of holding off generic competition. It also has a number of other provisions that would affect the industry.
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Senate Democrats are spearheading an effort which includes wording that boosts transparency and accountability within reporting, increases access and affordability of key drugs, and increases both choice and competition.
While the efforts are gathering Democratic support, it appears that few Republicans will join the effort lead by Senator Franken. On his website, Franken states “The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act would help ensure that drug companies put patients before profits and bring some much-needed relief to families and seniors, including many who have had to make the impossible choice between paying for a life-saving drug and putting food on the table.
Franken’s website also indicates that:
Overwhelming majorities of Americans in both parties support government action to curb out-of-control drug prices," Sen. Franken said. "I'm eager to hear from colleagues on both sides of the aisle and from the administration about how we can work together to pass reforms into law. This is an area of health policy that Democrats are eager to work on, and we hope that the President will stand by his promise to stand up to drug companies and reduce costs for families. It's morally wrong that some people are denied access to lifesaving drugs because they can't afford them. And it is something that we can fix.
The proposal itself includes a number of provisions including:
Allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs
Penalizing companies that price-gouge for lifesaving medicine
Speeding up generic competition
Funding new innovation
While the bill is in its infancy and many issues have been debated for years within Congress, it looks like the broader discussion of healthcare and related issues such as costs and generics is not going away anytime soon. If Franken is right about bipartisan support, the legislation might have a chance but given the current climate in Washington, movement seems unlikely. However, it is an area to watch closely for those in the industry.