WASHINGTON — Before the coronavirus pandemic became Congress’ sole focus, late May was widely viewed as a final 2020 deadline for lawmakers to take action on key health policy issues, including legislation to lower the price of prescription drugs.
But with the Covid-19 crisis dominating every aspect of American politics, such legislation will have to wait. A recent $2 trillion relief package that lawmakers passed on Friday could mean drug pricing advocates might be waiting a long while — likely until November, weeks after Election Day.
The stimulus bill, which Congress hurriedly crafted as U.S. unemployment claims soared and some hospitals flirted with insolvency, does more than offer $1,200 checks to Americans suddenly struggling to pay their bills. It also extends a number of key health programs whose funding was previously set to expire in late May. Many on Capitol Hill had hoped to pair those extensions with a sweeping package of drug pricing reforms, using the deadline for the former to encourage action on the latter. Now that the expiring programs are funded through Nov. 30, lawmakers’ largest incentive to pass drug pricing legislation before Election Day is gone.
This is indeed a very sensible, logical, and welcome news for the drug industry since the $2 trillion package does not include any subsidy or loan or any break for the industry compare to airline, travel, etc.
In fact I hope the industry would by November have come up with an effective treatment and also would have made significant progress towards a coronavirus vaccine and broadcast pervasively and ubiquitously as the result of continuous innovation. Hopefully any drug pricing legislation would thus be postponed for years and not merely months! Of occurs the only caveat would be the treatment and the vaccine must be priced reasonably!
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