This week in Washington: Talks continue on infrastructure, Senate committees moving forward on health legislation, President’s budget due the end of the week.


Following Hearing, Democratic Committee Chairs Ask for FTC Investigation into AbbVie’s Pricing Practices
On May 18, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chair of the Judiciary Committee, wrote to ask Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Acting Chair Kelly Slaughter to investigate if AbbVie broke antitrust laws with its patent strategy. The letter, which can be found here, stated that the committee’s review of nonpublic documents indicates that AbbVie has delayed biosimilar competition for far longer than warranted by its own evaluations of its patent portfolio strength, which anticipated biosimilar entry no later than 2017. The representatives’ request for a formal inquiry was made on the same day that the AbbVie CEO testified before Congress about the company’s pricing practices for drugs Humira and Imbruvica. Testimony from the May 18 hearing can be found here. In addition, the House Oversight Committee released a Drug Pricing Investigation report into AbbVie’s pricing practices for Humira and Imbruvica on May 18. The report can be found here.

House Passes Orphan Drug Exclusivity Loophole Bill
On May 19, the House passed the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act (H.R. 1629) by an overwhelming vote of 402-23. The bill would amend the cost recovery pathway under the Orphan Drug Act to require pharmaceutical companies seeking orphan drug designations to demonstrate they do not expect to recoup development costs.


Executive Session to Discuss Legislation
On May 25, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold an executive session titled “S. __, Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act; S. 1491; S.__, Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration Act; S. 1301; S. 610; and S. 1658.” The bills to be discussed at this meeting are listed below.

  • S. __, Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act
  • S. 1491, Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services Act
  • S. 1662, Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration Act
  • S. 1301, Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act
  • S. 610, Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
  • S. 1658, Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act

Procedural Vote for Brooks-LaSure Nomination Set
On May 24, the Senate will vote on whether to invoke cloture on Chiquita Brooks-LaSure’s confirmation to be the next administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on May 20. A successful cloture vote would limit floor debate on the confirmation, and both the cloture and final vote require simple majorities.

Bipartisan Health Savings Bill Reintroduced
On May 20, Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Angus King (I-ME) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) reintroduced the Preventive Health Savings Act (S. 1685), which would direct the congressional budget to include the cost savings of preventive health care. The bill would also allow certain committee chairs to request an analysis of preventive measures extending beyond the 10-year window. The bill text can be found here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.