White House Deal With Drug Makers May Be Unraveling

"Congressional Democrats' intensifying efforts to pay for their healthcare overhaul and provide more relief for consumers are threatening to unravel a White House deal with the pharmaceutical industry and turn one of Washington's most powerful lobbies against the legislation," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Drug makers, which have already spent $110 million lobbying Congress this year, are preparing to make a stand in the Senate," where a health bill is expected to be unveiled this week. Senior administration officials "are warning members of Congress not to antagonize the deep-pocketed industry at a time when a major victory appears to be within reach, according to Democratic aides."

Under a deal struck between the White House and drug makers this summer, "companies pledged to support an overhaul and provide limited discounts to Medicare patients in exchange for a promise that no other controls would be imposed on pharmaceutical prices." But the House legislation challenges that deal by forcing "drug makers to provide bigger discounts when the federal government buys drugs for low-income senior citizens on Medicare. The bill also would give the government new authority to negotiate lower prices for all seniors on Medicare." Now, it appears a bipartisan group of senators "wants to open the door to lower-priced prescription drugs from other countries. Still other lawmakers want to speed the development of cheaper generic versions of biologic drugs, a new class of pharmaceuticals" (Levey and Hamburger, 11/17).

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