Drug Pricing Debate in Washington Is a Headache for Pharma

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Last-ditch effort by Democrats to pass a slimmed-down version of Build Back Better may include drug pricing measures

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But Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who scuttled a $1.7 trillion spending bill in December, is now giving reform advocates a glimmer of hope. lend your support For a slimmed-down version of the law that could include provisions to reduce drug prices. Mr Manchin may not be a fan of big spending bills, but he can’t ignore retirees in West Virginia pay 10 times higher than their counterparts for insulin in other wealthy countries.

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Drug pricing “is something we all agree on,” Manchin said at the AARP event, “if we don’t do anything else this year, it’s something that must be done.”

Mr. Manchin is negotiating quietly with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.
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, NY), and the talks are serious enough to endanger Wall Street. Brian Abrahams, an analyst at RBC Capital, thinks that “the risk of the drug pricing law returning is extremely low on the Street.” Democrats appear ready to take a more serious shot at slashing drug prices, saying a group of Morgan Stanley analysts, including Matthew Harrison and Terrence Flynn, said “the midterm elections are near”.

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A lobbyist representing large healthcare providers estimates that the bill is likely to pass at 50%. Still, he cautioned that while Arizona’s Sen. Kirsten Cinema—another decisive Democrat—finally agreed to drug-pricing provisions in the original Build Back Better law last year, he may not be a fan of a stripped-down version of the law. Which completely goes behind the pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Manchin, on the other hand, is indicating that he is up for it.

He has said that the deadline for passing a spending bill is September 30, the end of the federal government’s fiscal year. Any progress in talks this summer could put some pressure on stocks in the sector — especially those most risk averse to the bill, such as the big biotechs Regeneron and Amgen.,

Regeneron’s direct Medicare talks for Ilia could reduce the company’s revenue by 5% to 15%, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.

Although the details of the slimmed-down version of the Build Back Better bill are not known, the measure will likely address climate change and drug pricing, elements borrowed from last year’s bill. That means direct Medicare negotiations for a list of drugs and capping out-of-pocket costs may be involved. Support from all 50 Democratic senators will be key to bypassing a GOP filibuster in the Senate through the reconciliation process.

There is a fair amount of doubt. Mr Manchino told axios That, while the negotiations are respectable, there “cannot be anything”. “Munchkin and Schumer have gone down this road several times without success,” Cowen’s Rick Weisenstein wrote in a note last week.

If nothing passes by the time the Senate recess in August, investors will start to feel more comfortable ramping up their pharma and biotech bets in anticipation of a poor showing for Democrats in the fall. And even if a bill does pass, it would cut the entire industry a few percentage points off sales, so officials aren’t in a panic.

For now, though, Joe Manchin remains one of the most powerful men in Washington and also a man to watch on Wall Street. Until it’s clear where it stands, health care investors shouldn’t let their guard down.

David Weiner and [email protected]

Credit: www.Businesshala.com /

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