STAT + , September 20, 2018
Lev Facher and Nicholas Forko

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WASHINGTON — Republicans on Capitol Hill are attempting to use a bill to address the opioid crisis to deliver a major victory for the pharmaceutical industry, reversing a measure that put drug makers on the hook for a higher share of Medicare drug costs, according to congressional staff and lobbyists.

The effort could also result in passage of the CREATES Act, legislation that would facilitate the entry of lower-priced generic and biosimilar drugs to the market.

Since February, when Congress passed provisions forcing drug manufacturers to pay more for drugs used by Medicare beneficiaries, the pharmaceutical lobby has sought a return to the status quo. The push has so far come up short, resulting in industry frustration with PhRMA, the lobbying group that is paid handsomely to shape policy.

The opioids bill — which enjoys bipartisan support and have been cited by lawmakers as a top priority throughout 2018 — presents a final opportunity to advance industry-friendly legislation.

“Pharma is pushing very aggressively to attach their fix to the opioids package,” said Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), the House’s top Democrat. [...]

biotechnology fda health care costs health care finance health law policy medicaremedicaid pharmaceuticals regulation