IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 pandemic. This newsletter compiles information on state, federal and industry action to combat the virus and its impacts.
If your company is helping respond to COVID-19, IowaBio wants to know about it. Please, send any information about what your biotechnology company or organization is doing to help, to Jessica Hyland at Jessica@iowabio.org.
If IowaBio can assist you in getting information out, connecting with public officials, or support your company in another way, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Past IowaBio COVID-19 Update newsletters are now available at www.iowabio.org/COVID19 and can be found under the Industry News tab on the IowaBio website.
On Friday, President Trump announced the issuance of four Executive Orders (EOs) directing federal agency action on drug pricing.
First, and of greatest concern, is an EO that called for Medicare to limit payment for drugs to the lowest price available in any “economically comparable” country. This EO would go into effect on August 24, 2020, unless an agreement was reached with biopharmaceutical companies on an alternative, or if Congress acts to address drug pricing by that same date.
In addition, three other EOs were issued: one focused on passing rebates on to Medicare beneficiaries at the point of sale (which BIO strongly supports); another expanding drug importation; and one lowering out-of-pocket costs for insulin and injectable epinephrine at federal community health centers.
While we have yet to see the actual details, the Medicare EO apparently requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue regulations that would call for a mandatory demonstration program to significantly reduce the Medicare Part B reimbursement rate for physician-administered therapies to the lowest price offered in any OECD country.
This is a far more extreme price control policy than the International Pricing Index (IPI) model that HHS proposed in 2018.
In fact, this foreign price control policy is similar to legislation passed by the House of Representatives last year (H.R. 3), which IowaBio and BIO opposed that expanded upon the Administration’s original IPI proposal to set prices at a far lower international reference price. The President’s own Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) estimated that, if such policies were implemented, pharmaceutical revenues would be reduced by $500 billion to $1 trillion over the next decade and that 100 fewer drugs could enter the marketplace as a result of less investment in R&D.
BIO is also concerned that at a time when BIO’s innovative companies are working around the clock to develop vaccines and therapies for a pandemic that is ravaging America’s elderly, imposing price controls on Medicare drugs would undermine investment incentives, chill immense scientific progress, disrupt providers’ ability to provide care, and increase barriers to patient access. In addition, this “most favored nation” price control scheme also would jeopardize patient access to medicines in Medicare Part B – medicines to treat complex conditions like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, President and CEO of BIO issued a letter to President Trump regarding the serious concerns of the pharmaceutical industry with the impacts of implementing these policies, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. BIO’s press statement can be found here.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 42,358 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,563 from our update Friday morning, with a total of 454,803 tested. 9 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 829 deaths. Now 29,728 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.