Overnight Health Care: Top biotech lobbyist sees industry under 'greater threat' than ever | Senators offer bipartisan drug pricing bill | 5.1M pounds of beef added to salmonella recall

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

The Hill sat down with James Greenwood, the CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, to talk about the group's priorities with a Democratic House looming. Also today, a new bill from the incoming chairman and current ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee gives a hint at the committee's new direction next year.

 

Top biotech lobbyist: Industry under 'greater threat' than ever before

Biotech companies are trying to get their message out as they face new threats from a Democratic House and the Trump administration next year, which could combine to be something of a perfect storm.

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James Greenwood, the CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), sat down with us on Tuesday.

Key quote: "I'm certainly not sitting here saying we don't have a problem; we have a problem," he said. "I'd say the industry is under a greater threat than it's ever been before."

Democrats are poised to focus on drug pricing when they take control of the House in January, and the industry is also under pressure from the White House, which Greenwood admitted was somewhat unexpected.

BIO's strategy: The drug industry argues that the real problem is not the sticker prices they set, but the share of the price that patients actually pay, which is determined by insurance companies.

Greenwood said his message to House Democrats will be: "Is this really helping patients or is this just politics as usual?"

Counterpoint: Drug pricing advocates and insurers say this argument is simply an excuse drug companies use to distract from their high prices.

Read more from The Hill's interview here.

 

Bipartisan senators introduce new drug pricing bill

A bill introduced by Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by Amgen — House passes bill to stop drug companies overcharging Medicaid | Incoming Dem chairman open to 'Medicare For All' hearings | Bill to reduce maternal mortality rates passes House House passes bill to keep drug companies from overcharging Medicaid Pence casts tie-breaking vote for Trump appeals court judge MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by Amgen — House passes bill to stop drug companies overcharging Medicaid | Incoming Dem chairman open to 'Medicare For All' hearings | Bill to reduce maternal mortality rates passes House Coal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee House passes bill to keep drug companies from overcharging Medicaid MORE (D-Ore.) seeks to crack down on the tactics used by drug companies like Mylan to overcharge taxpayers for Medicaid rebates.

The bipartisan bill from the incoming chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee could be a sign the two will seek common ground on drug prices, and provides a hint at what the panel's priorities will be next year.

The lawmakers specifically called out Mylan, which paid $465 million to settle a lawsuit with the Justice Department in 2016. The company incorrectly classified the EpiPen as a generic drug, when it was actually a brand name drug.

The settlement may have only been a fraction of the total amount Mylan underpaid. One federal analysis found that taxpayers may have overpaid for EpiPen by as much as $1.27 billion over 10 years.

Read more here.

 

5.1 million pounds of beef added to salmonella recall

One of the nation's largest beef producers, JBS Tolleson, is recalling an additional 5 million pounds of beef products over possible salmonella contamination, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on Tuesday.

The raw beef items, which were sold to grocery stores across the country, were packaged between July and September, according to the statement. This is an expansion of an October recall by JBS Tolleson, which took around 7 million pounds of beef off the market after a salmonella outbreak caused hundreds of people to fall ill in the U.S.

The FSIS in the statement said it is concerned that some consumers may have frozen the recalled beef in their freezers.

"These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase," the statement warns.

The FSIS added that it is continuing to investigate illnesses associated with the JBS Tolleson products.

Read more here.

 

What we're reading

Trump's new immigration rule could threaten health care for 6.8 million children who are U.S. citizens (Governing)

Johnson & Johnson CEO says fix the drug pricing process, but not too much (Fortune)

Medicare for all? Rep. Frank Pallone says the votes aren't there (Asbury Park Press)

 

State by state

Despite investments, California's ObamaCare enrollment lags slightly (Washington Examiner)

University of Hawaii researchers develop potential Zika vaccine (Star Advertiser)

 

From The Hill's opinion page

Congress is poised to finally lift its longstanding ban on industrial hemp

Here's how climate change is going to make you sick