Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi

Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi images from Wikipedia

President Biden has instructed FDA to develop a plan to import prescription drugs from Canada while asking federal officials to create a “comprehensive plan” to cut drug prices within 45 days.

Biden has also recommended that FTC block “pay for delay” agreements from pharma companies paying generic drug makers to hold off on introducing competitive products.

The proposals are included in a far-reaching executive order with several healthcare provisions. The main thrust of the order, however, is stimulating competition in the economy.

Earlier this year, Biden asked Congress to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which was also a goal spelled out in the 2019 House Bill H.R. 3 that Democrats reintroduced in April.

Biden included the recent effort to give Medicare drug negotiation powers in an executive order intended to spur economic competition.

While the Trump administration also intended to open up prescription drug imports, the proposal ultimately stalled.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently announced that she was pursuing drug pricing reform in conjunction with President Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure initiative unveiled in spring.

Pelosi argued that drug pricing reform would not hurt R&D spending, which is a central argument drug companies have used to criticize efforts to cap expenditures on medicines. She pointed to a recent staff report from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to support that argument. The report found that 14 of the largest drug companies spent more on stock buybacks, dividends and executive compensation than R&D. It also concluded that many drug companies spend a significant amount of R&D funds on strategies to suppress competition instead of developing new drugs.

In addition to allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, Pelosi is also seeking to cap the prices pharmaceutical companies charge private payers.

Pelosi has recommended that Congressional Democrats use budget reconciliation to enact the drug pricing reform provisions. The process requires a simple majority and is immune from the filibuster.