Health chairman: Drug pricing could come up in innovation bill

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate panel rejects Trump funding cuts on Energy Department programs Governors-turned-senators meet to talk healthcare With healthcare bill derailed, GOP wonders: What now? 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 McCaskillFederal Election Commission must not shy away from Russia probe Senate Dems warn potential Missouri GOP recruit with opposition research dump GOP rep declines Senate bid challenging McCaskill MORE (D-Mo.) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsThe GOP Wonder Women who saved healthcare for 22 million Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan OPINION | GOP healthcare attack is a vendetta against President Obama 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 BaldwinSteel industry urges House panel to adopt 'Buy America' rules Major progressive group endorses Martha McSally challenger Vulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 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.