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On Tuesday, February 11, 2020, Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced legislation to eliminate the “orphan drug loophole.” Current law allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant seven years of market exclusivity to a drug manufacturer if the drug is intended to treat a disease or condition affecting fewer than 200,000 patients in the U.S., or less commonly, if the manufacturer cannot expect to recover the costs of developing and marketing a drug. In some cases, even if the drug developer meets the orphan drug criterion of having no hope of recovering the costs, the drug does actually become profitable—some significantly so—but competitors are still barred from entering the market with a lower-cost alternative during the 7-year exclusivity period that exists by operation of law. To combat this issue, the recently introduced Senate bill (as well as a nearly-identical House bill introduced in October 2019) targets a loophole that allows market exclusivity under the Orphan Drug Act to be extended for future versions of the same drug without the drug's manufacturer having to show that the drug remains unprofitable.
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FDA User Fee Agreements

February 14, 2020 | Video | By Aaron Josephson

In this video, Aaron Josephson discusses FDA user fee agreements, the timeline for the reauthorization process, and why it is important for companies with FDA-regulated products to be paying attention now.
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The Impact of AI

February 3, 2020 | Article | By Christian Tamotsu Fjeld

Read the transcript of a San Francisco Business Times panel discussion on artificial intelligence, including ML Strategies Vice President Christian T. Fjeld’s insights on emerging regulatory issues.
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As discussed in an earlier blog post, the process for reauthorizing human medical product user fee programs at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for another 5-year period is getting started this year. Below we highlight some changes made to the programs when they were last reauthorized through the 2017 Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act (FDARA) (P.L. 115-52) and consider what could be included in the upcoming user fee reauthorization package.
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A history of FDA human medical product user fee programs, including those for prescription drugs (PDUFA), generic drugs (GDUFA), biosimilars (BsUFA), and medical devices (MDUFA), their negotiation and reauthorization, and how manufacturers and patients can participate and get involved in the negotiations.
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As we noted in our previous blog post, there are several legislative priorities in the health care space that could see action this year. There are also a variety of activities beginning this year that could set the stage for later action. Here’s what we’re tracking for a 2020 health care legislative package.
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On December 20, 2019, the President signed into law a bill to fund the federal government through September 30, 2020. The bill included several important health care provisions but left some longstanding policy challenges unresolved. Most notable changes to law are the elimination of three Affordable Care Act taxes and the passage of the CREATES Act. Noticeably absent is legislation related to surprise billing and prescription drug pricing. A summary of key health care provisions included in the 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 116-94) follows. We will address the legislative outlook for 2020 in a separate ML Strategies blog post next week.
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As the Legislature approaches the Holiday recess, health care costs and access continue to be at the forefront of the agenda. The Baker Administration released the VALUE Act on October 18th and the Senate filed the PACT Act on November 7th. 
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This week, Congress is working towards passage of a continuing resolution that would fund the government through the middle of November. This will give policymakers and appropriators enough time to hash out differences in funding priorities as well as work on policies addressing drug pricing, surprise billing, and funding for public health programs. The surprise billing issue is really heating up with outside stakeholder groups weighing in and Congress carefully considering its next steps. We cover this and more in this week's preview, which you can find by clicking here.
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With less than a year to go until the end of formal sessions on July 31, 2020, Massachusetts legislators are back in action this month to begin tackling a robust policy agenda. We are poised to see action on both new and pending legislation this fall on a number of priority policy areas.
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As August recess gets underway for the House and the Senate, ML Strategies has prepared a summary of the status of this summer’s key cybersecurity issues. ML Strategies will continue to track these and other cybersecurity priorities before Congress and the Administration through August and beyond.
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This week, the Senate is expected to vote on a budget deal that would also suspend the debt limit for two years. This clears a major hurdle come September when both chambers of Congress will be in session with a laundry list of policies and programs to address, including appropriations. We cover this and more in this week's preview, which you can find by clicking here. 
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On Monday, July 22nd the Massachusetts Legislature finalized the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget and delivered it to Governor Baker’s desk for approval. The Legislature’s Budget Conference Committee, led by Chairmen Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D- Boston) and Senator Michael Rodrigues (D- Somerset), authorizes $43.1 billion in state spending for this fiscal year and included the largest annual increase for K-12 education in the state’s history, a $269 million dollar lift.
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Regular readers of this blog know that we’re closely following the FDA’s proposed regulatory framework for software as a medical device (SaMD), known as precertification—Pre-Cert for short. Generally, Pre-Cert involves a premarket evaluation of a software developer’s culture of quality and organizational excellence and continual, real-time postmarket analyses to assure software meets the statutory standard of reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness.
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This week, the House is set to vote on repeal of the Cadillac tax, which is a forty-percent tax on high-cost health plans established by the Affordable Care Act. While its prospects for passage in the Senate are not entirely clear, passage out of the House clears an important hurdle. In other news, we are continuing to monitor the evolving drug pricing debate which is still expected to ramp up in the coming weeks with action from the Administration and Senate.
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This week, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is back in the news with oral arguments set to begin before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The court will decide whether to uphold a federal district court's ruling that struck down the ACA. This case has the potential to reshape the political landscape in 2020 if it reaches the Supreme Court. On Capitol Hill, policymakers are working hard to bring forth a drug pricing package before the August recess. They will also have to balance the Administration's efforts, which is expected to issue an executive order this month on lowering drug costs. We cover this and more in this week's preview. 
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This week, the House Energy & Commerce Committee is voting on seven more drug pricing bills. The Senate is going to be unveiling its cost-containment package in the coming weeks (if not days) and should include most, if not all, of the House-passed drug pricing bills. This action will set the stage for the summer work period, which is expected to focus heavily on drug pricing and other cost-containment measures, such as surprise medical bills. At CMS, the agency published a final rule last week that touched on several noteworthy drug pricing issues. We cover this and more in this week's preview, which you can find by clicking here. 
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Congress is circling an issue that is not black and white in terms of the stakeholders it could impact and how interests will align. The leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are poised to release a cost-containment package in the coming weeks which will touch on surprise billing issues, drug pricing, and other access and transparency issues. While there is intense bipartisan interest in addressing some of these issues, it is unclear how exactly this package will reach the President's desk given the current political climate.
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This week, the House is poised to take action on drug pricing by passing two pieces of legislation. As the House moves bills through final passage, focus will shift to the Senate which will in the coming weeks unveil a legislative package around lowering costs for consumers. The scope of this package is still unclear, but it should include a number of proposals that could pass on a bipartisan basis. We cover this and more in this week's preview, which you can find by clicking here. 
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Following the two week recess, Congress is back in session and will have several high profile hearings this week. For starters, the Energy & Commerce Health subcommittee will continue reviewing prescription drug costs, this time focusing in on Medicare. In the Rules Committee, which does not typically host high profile hearings, they will hold the first committee hearing on H.R. 1384, one of the "Medicare for All" proposals.


The House is poised to pass several noteworthy drug pricing bills this work period, as well as legislation to strengthen the Affordable Care Act. Once the House votes on these bills, the question will then become what is the Senate able to pass and what is their appetite for taking it on this summer. We cover this and more in this week's preview.
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