Health chairman: Drug pricing could come up in innovation bill

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help 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 Conner McCaskillMcCaskill welcomes ninth grandson in a row Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities MORE (D-Mo.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday 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 Suzanne BaldwinAmerican women will decide who wins and loses in 2018 elections Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees 10 Senate Democrats are up for reelection in Trump country 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.