This week, two House committees held hearings on bills to give Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices. Both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Education and Labor Committee heard from witnesses on why the proposed bill (HR 3) would reduce costs and benefit consumers. HR 3 was recently introduced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) after months of drafting and deliberation. Titled the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, it gives the Secretar
Yesterday the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held a hearing on how drug companies use gimmicks and loopholes to increase prices and stifle competition. This hearing focused on product hopping, where brand drug companies make small changes to their medicines for the purpose of delaying competition. In a two hour hearing, experts testified on this problem and offered some possible solutions. Product hopping can take many forms, such as changing a drug fr
Yesterday, September 17, 2019, eight U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging it to thoroughly investigate the pharmaceutical mergers of AbbVie and Allergan and Bristol Myers-Squibb and Celgene. The Senators wrote that both mergers "raise significant antitrust issues" and that the FTC "should take appropriate action to protect consumers from acquisitions that may threaten competition in drug markets, raise drug prices, or reduce patient access
Yesterday, a coalition of over a dozen consumer groups and unions sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) expressing concerns about the huge AbbVie-Allergan merger. They write that the merger would likely harm competition and consumers and result in higher drug prices. The organizations urge the FTC to conduct a careful investigation of the deal and block it if necessary. The groups that signed onto the letter are Families USA, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG Education
Speaker Nancy Pelosi's draft plan to lower prescription drug costs would give the federal government the power to negotiate lower prices for hundreds of prescription drugs, not just for Medicare but also for private health plans. This proposal is still being finalized, but the plan is ambitious and envisions a strong role for the government in ensuring that drugs are affordable. It is a long overdue and welcome reform, and we look forward to the final bill. The draft bill, HR
Patent abuse by companies has become an increasingly serious problem over the last couple of decades, and leads to reduced competition, fewer consumer choices, and higher prescription drug costs. This upcoming Wednesday, September 11th, the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property is holding a hearing on how to strengthen America's patent system. Unfortunately one of the bills being considered, the STRONGER Patents Act of 2019, would harm our patent system by discouraging
Judge Richard Leon, who was reviewing the Department of Justice's decision to allow the pharmacy and pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) CVS to merge with the health insurance company Aetna, announced that the deal was lawful under antitrust law. While not unexpected, this is a big disappointment for consumers and competition, although there are some helpful precedents for future antitrust reviews. The CVS-Aetna merger is a colossal transaction worth $70 billion, and it combines a
Pharmaceutical innovation has led to the development of incredible new prescription drugs that can treat many diseases and ensure that consumers have a good quality of life. But rising drug prices are threatening this, especially for drugs that treat rare diseases. In a new article, the New York Times examines skyrocketing drug costs and their impact on people with these illnesses, and how they are often forced to extreme measures to get the medicine they need to stay alive.