Sanders and Cassidy to raise drug price bills next week

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will convene a bipartisan meeting next week on legislation to reduce drug prices, committee leaders announced Tuesday.

The May 2 markup will include bills on increasing competition for generic drugs, pharmaceutical benefit manager (PBM) industry transparency, and access to treatments for patients with rare diseases.

The markup shows there is still a way forward for bipartisan work on lowering prescription drug prices that could pass the Senate. PBMs in particular face pressures from many angles.

The HELP committee bills could be combined with a Sens-sponsored bipartisan PBM bill. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) of the Senate Commerce Committee, as well as legislation capping the cost of insulin. $35 for anyone with private insurance.

But it’s still not clear that even with some bipartisan support, there would be enough Republicans voting in favor to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate.

It’s also unclear whether the GOP-controlled House would benefit from passing the legislation, especially if it includes insulin caps. But there has been some bipartisan interest in drug pricing proposals in the House, particularly those focused on PBMS.

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