Overnight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers

Overnight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care, where we're gearing up for the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses. Expect questions on Medicare for All and keep a close eye for any jabs between Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders over handling of feud with Warren On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders over handling of feud with Warren On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans MORE (D-Mass.).

Back in Washington, a House panel is set to examine federal marijuana policies, lawmakers are expressing alarm over a rise in cocaine overdose deaths, and Democrats want the HHS inspector general to keep an eye on Tennessee's Medicaid waiver.

But we'll start with a look at how the drug industry is handling the US-Mexico trade deal...

ADVERTISEMENT

 

Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat

The pharmaceutical industry suffered a rare loss in the North American trade deal the Senate will pass as soon as this week, but they're not waging a full-scale battle against the agreement. 

Sources familiar with the strategy say the industry is working to get senators on record in support of including the market exclusivity protections it lost in this deal in future trade agreements with other countries but that drug companies are also not trying to get GOP senators to vote against the USMCA, a likely impossible task.

Instead, the industry, worried about the precedent this deal sets, is trying to stem its losses and build support for including the intellectual property protections in future trade deals with countries like China.

Sign of things to come? Both sides in the fight over high drug prices wonder whether the industry loss is a sign of more sweeping changes to come as other legislation looms.

"My hope is that we're starting to see senators be more independent on pharma issues," Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Progressives raise red flags over health insurer donations | Republican FTC commish backs Medicare negotiating drug prices | Trump moves to protect money for religious groups MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview. But he noted that the lessons from the trade deal for the broader drug pricing debate can only go so far because "the coalitions for trade are different than they are on pharmaceuticals."

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more here

 

House panel set to examine federal marijuana policies

A House panel on Wednesday is set to examine some of the barriers to marijuana research amid a growing disconnect between federal and state policies. 

"There is a chasm between the federal laws and what over 30 states are doing," Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Health insurers urge Supreme Court to take ObamaCare case | Lawmakers press Trump officials to change marijuana rules | Bloomberg vows to ban flavored e-cigs if elected MORE (D-Calif.) told The Hill in an interview Tuesday.  

Eshoo, the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, said she wants to hear from officials at the Food and Drug Administration, as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency explain why the federal government is potentially blocking research into the effects of marijuana.

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, meaning it is in the same category as drugs like heroin and LSD. According to the federal government, it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value.

The hearing is expected to explore the barriers to cannabis research, federal efforts to review and approve cannabidiol (CBD) products, as well as several pieces of cannabis-related legislation.

Read more here.

 

House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers

The top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is reopening an investigation into three drug companies that make opioids over their role in the epidemic of overdose deaths. 

Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Republicans offer details on environmental proposals after Democrats roll out plan Overnight Energy: Cost analysis backing BLM move comes under scrutiny | Republicans eye legislation to rival Dems' climate plan | Report claims top global risks all climate-related MORE (R-Ore.), along with Reps. Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieOvernight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers Lawmakers express alarm over rise in cocaine overdose deaths House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers over role in crisis MORE (R-Ky.) and Morgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithOvernight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers over role in crisis The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran MORE (R-Va.), sent letters on Tuesday to the companies with new questions about whether they could have done more earlier to stem the tide of opioid-related deaths. 

The lawmakers wrote to Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics, following up on letters sent in August 2018 and requesting more information.

ADVERTISEMENT

Topics include:

  • Pressing Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, which helped drive the epidemic, about evidence that it knew about the drug being abused as early as 1997. 
  • Asking Mallinckrodt about a company official's comments in a deposition that she alerted management in 2008 that its suspicious-order-monitoring system was faulty. 

Read more here

 

Lawmakers express alarm over rise in cocaine overdose deaths

The bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are raising alarm over an increase in overdose deaths from cocaine and methamphetamine. 

The lawmakers wrote to the Trump administration requesting a briefing on the fight against these drugs by Feb. 4. 

While much attention has been placed on the epidemic of deaths from opioids, the lawmakers point out that overdose deaths from other kinds of drugs have been increasing in recent years and should not fly under the radar. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"We are concerned that while the nation, rightly so, is devoting much of its attention and resources to the opioid epidemic, another epidemic--this one involving cocaine and methamphetamine--is on the rise," wrote Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessOvernight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers Lawmakers express alarm over rise in cocaine overdose deaths Hillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware MORE (R-Texas), Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteLawmaker calls for hearing into MLB cheating scandal Overnight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers Lawmakers express alarm over rise in cocaine overdose deaths MORE (D-Colo.) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.).

Read more here

 

Democrats warn against Tennessee Medicaid block grant

A pair of Democrats from the House and Senate want a government watchdog to make sure Tennessee does not abuse funding if the Trump administration approves the state's request to block-grant Medicaid.

In a letter sent Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) urged the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General to "exercise vigorous oversight" if Tennessee's waiver request is granted.

Tennessee's waiver request would cap the amount of federal funding the state receives to provide care for Medicaid beneficiaries. If approved, it could be the first block grant–type program in the nation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Wyden and Pallone said the system would create a financial incentive for Tennessee to cut coverage benefits for consumers. 

"The scheme promoted by the administration and embodied in the Tennessee waiver proposal would threaten beneficiary access to care in many ways, including all but ensuring Medicaid dollars are diverted by purposes not allowed under federal law," Pallone and Wyden wrote. 

Read more on their letter here.

 

What we're reading

A forerunner in 'smart pills' adopts a new tack as key pharma partnership unravels (Stat News)

New York drug distributor exits opioids after admitting role in crisis (Reuters)

Eli Lilly to offer half-priced versions of two more insulin products (Reuters)

 

State by state

ObamaCare demand remains high in Florida as enrollment nears 2 million (Tampa Bay Times)

Loopholes limit new California law to guard against lofty air ambulance bills (Kaiser Health News

Dems criticize West Virginia AG proposal to protect pre-existing conditions (Weirton Daily Times