Health chairman: Drug pricing could come up in innovation bill

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderOvernight Regulation: Trump's Labor nominee hints at updating overtime rule Trump's Labor pick signals support for overtime pay hike Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing 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. 

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He said he expects that there will be a proposal from Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillUnder pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support Overnight Defense: General warns State Department cuts would hurt military | Bergdahl lawyers appeal Trump motion | Senators demand action after nude photo scandal The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-Mo.) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsThis week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing 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 BaldwinOvernight Finance: Senators spar over Wall Street at SEC pick's hearing | New CBO score for ObamaCare bill | Agency signs off on Trump DC hotel lease The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Dem senator to reintroduce ‘buy American’ legislation 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.