Drug-pricing legislation on hold during pandemic

Lawmakers are unlikely to move to lower drug costs until after Election Day as the coronavirus pandemic has become Congress' main focus, Stat reported.

With funding for several health programs expiring May 22, that date was seen as the deadline for lawmakers to take action on drug prices this year. Lawmakers also saw the date as a chance to pair funding extensions with a package of drug-pricing reforms, according to Stat

But program funding was extended through Nov. 30 as part of the $2 trillion stimulus package that President Donald Trump signed into law March 27, meaning the lawmakers' incentive to pass drug-pricing reforms before Election Day is now gone.

"I think Nov. 30 is the new May 22," Ben Wakana, executive director of the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, told Stat. "Come Nov. 30, when hopefully things are in a better place public healthwise, I still think there will be momentum there to get this done."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who co-sponsors a bill with Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that would lower drug costs, made a failed attempt to include drug-pricing legislation in the stimulus package, according to Stat

A spokesperson for Mr. Wyden told Stat that with millions of Americans facing unemployment and pay cuts, high drug costs will become an even more prominent issue. 

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