WASHINGTON – The Senate health committee on Thursday passed a package of bills aimed at speeding generic drug competition and reining in drug middlemen business practices. But they failed to pass an ambitious reform to the pharmacy benefit manager sector, despite strong bipartisan support for it.
Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pursuing the drug pricing reforms at the behest of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who wants to hold a floor vote on an even bigger package of health bills later this year. The markup came just a day after the same panel held a major hearing on PBM and drugmakers’ role in high insulin prices.
It’s not clear when the Senate would take up that package, and while the package is bipartisan, it’s not clear whether it has enough support among House Republicans to pass in that chamber. There are a few, tamer PBM bills that the House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to mark up May 17, but there is no indication that Senate and House lawmakers are coordinating on PBM legislation.
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