Health chairman: Drug pricing could come up in innovation bill

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate GOP short on ideas for stabilizing ObamaCare markets GOP senators push Trump for DOE research funding Key chairman open to delaying repeal of ObamaCare mandate MORE (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday that drug pricing measures could be considered as part of the medical innovation bill that his committee is working on. 

He said he expects that there will be a proposal from Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillFive things to know about Joe Lieberman Senate GOP short on ideas for stabilizing ObamaCare markets Mueller to ask Congress to step back Russia investigations: report MORE (D-Mo.) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsRussia probes in limbo after special prosecutor announcement GOP senator slams 'lack of leadership' coming from Trump GOP senators push Trump for DOE research funding MORE (R-Maine), who have been investigating spikes in drug prices in the Senate Aging Committee. 

Collins and McCaskill last week introduced a bill to speed up the process for approving generic drugs that could compete with drugs that have seen large price increases. In particular, their investigation has focused on Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, two companies that have been under an intense spotlight for their price increases. 

“Senator Collins and McCaskill have been working on a proposal,” Alexander told reporters Wednesday. “They’ve had very good hearings on the Aging Committee. But the Aging Committee has no legislative jurisdiction, so they count on us for that, so I expect to see a Collins, McCaskill amendment, perhaps at the next markup, on drug pricing.”

The next and final markup to consider a series of bills under the umbrella of medical innovation is scheduled for April 6. 

Drug prices have been a hot topic recently, and Democrats on the committee could also seek to push the issue beyond just speeding up generic drug approvals. 

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinDem senator presses Trump for combat ship funding Congressional Democrats going the wrong way on carried interest tax Dems request insider trading investigation into top Trump adviser MORE (D-Wis.) said at a markup Wednesday that drug prices “must be something we debate as part of this bill.”

Alexander said he expects other amendments on drug pricing to be offered at the next markup as well, though it is unclear whether they would pass. 

“There may be other amendments on drug pricing, that would be an appropriate time to deal with them,” Alexander said.