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MLS Weekly Preview: Congress Keeping its Focus on Drug Costs

April 8, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan, Alexander Hecht

This week, Congress will continue to look at lowering health costs. The House has been focused on both drug costs and overall health care costs, advancing packages to strengthen the individual market in addition to a series of bipartisan drug pricing bills. We cover this and more in this week's preview.
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FDA Silent on CBD Regulation at Cosmetics Conference, But Legislation May Be Imminent

April 1, 2019 | Blog | By Benjamin Zegarelli, Aaron Josephson

Regulation of cannabidiol (CBD) was a hot topic on Day 1 of ACI’s Cosmetics & Personal Care Products conference on March 28, 2019. Attendees asked many questions about legitimate uses of and claims for CBD, but definite answers were in short supply due to the current confusion over the legality of CBD as a product itself or other products, such as food or cosmetics, with CBD added.

When asked a direct question about FDA’s perspective on and plans for CBD regulation, Dr. Linda Katz, Director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors and Acting Chief Medical Officer for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, did not comment directly but referred all attendees to an upcoming public meeting on CBD in April 2019. It is possible that the public meeting could be the start of an FDA rulemaking process for CBD regulations. Even though Dr. Katz was unable to comment, there was still plenty of CDB advice to share with industry attendees.
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ML Strategies Health Care Preview - Week of March 25, 2019

March 26, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

This week, House Democrats are pressing forward with a health care package designed to lower drug costs and strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This package will provide a platform for Democrats to tout legislation that stabilizes the ACA or counteracts actions taken by the Administration. While this legislative package is sure to get a lot of attention following the Department of Justice announcement regarding Texas v. Azar, it's unclear how much support it will garner in the Senate.
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Device Modernization Series: In Vitro Clinical Tests

March 7, 2019 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

In our first two Device Modernization series posts, we discussed FDA’s 510(k) modernization efforts and the proposed De Novo regulation. FDA has also had a heavy hand in legislative efforts to retool oversight of laboratory developed tests (LDTs) and other in vitro diagnostics (IVDs). The proposed approach would create an entirely new category of medical product separate from medical devices known as in vitro clinical tests (IVCTs).
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On March 5, 2019, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced his resignation. The physician and venture capitalist, ​for whom this was ​a second stint at the FDA, intends to leave the agency in about a month to spend more time with his family. In this post, Aaron Josephson reflects on Dr. Gottlieb's time leading the FDA and its future after his departure.
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ML Strategies Health Care Preview - Week of March 4, 2019

March 4, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

As Congress continues its oversight of prescription drug prices, the Senate Finance Committee will also examine abuse and neglect at nursing homes. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is looking at ways to lower health care costs as it keeps it eye on lowering drug costs as well. The focus and intensity around drug pricing is not expected to diminish anytime soon. For our complete health care preview...
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What Does the Future Hold for Drug Pricing?

February 28, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

On Tuesday, executives from seven of the largest pharmaceutical companies testified before the Senate Finance Committee on rising prescription drug prices. While the hearing was expected to be packed with fireworks as Senators of both parties grilled the nation's top pharmaceutical executives, it was largely uneventful.
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Device Modernization Series: FDA’s Proposed De Novo Regulation

February 28, 2019 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

In our first Device Modernization series post, we discussed how FDA is proposing to modernize the 510(k) review program. FDA also recently issued a proposed regulation for the De Novo program and linked that proposed regulation to 510(k) modernization efforts as part of a broader strategy to improve device safety.

The proposed De Novo regulation, issued December 5, 2018, would codify into regulation many of the policy and programmatic features of the De Novo program that are currently outlined in guidance documents. Because guidance is nonbinding, FDA is seeking through the proposed regulation to provide structure, clarity, and transparency to the De Novo process in a way that would be binding on De Novo submitters.
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ML Strategies Health Care Preview - Week of February 25th

February 26, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

This week, Congress will dive into rising prescription drug costs with a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. The hearing will feature seven top drug manufacturer executives and will focus on rising drug prices and transparency, among other topics. The Finance Committee is also looking into insulin price increases, joining the House Oversight Committee in investigating a number of prescription drug price increases. We cover this and more in this week's preview, which you can find by...
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Device Modernization Series: FDA’s Changes to the 510(k) Program

February 21, 2019 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

In our “FDA 2018 Year in Review (and a Few Thoughts on 2019)” post and recent webinar, we observed that we may look back at 2018 as the beginning of the end for the 510(k) program as it has existed since the 1976 Medical Device Amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The 510(k) pathway has been scrutinized for years and among the most damning criticisms leveled against it is that it is a loophole that lets unsafe products on the market by allowing manufacturers to, in most cases, avoid clinical testing. As long as the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act allows for 510(k)s, though, FDA has to make the review program work, so the agency is looking for ways to improve the safety of 510(k)-cleared devices rather than burying its head in the sand.
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ML Strategies Health Care Preview - Week of February 11, 2019

February 11, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

Congress and the Administration are staring down the prospects of another government shutdown with talks breaking down over the weekend on a border funding deal. Democrats in the House continue to aggressively pursue drug pricing legislation, and are also touting reforms to the ACA to counteract actions taken by the Administration. Once we're beyond the shutdown, assuming a long-term deal can be struck, legislative direction on key issues should become clear. We cover this and more in this week's preview, which you can find...
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Mintz/ML Strategies’ 4th Annual Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Industry Summit has been scheduled for Thursday, May 2, 2019 – mark your calendars! People from across the industry will gather for one day to share insights about issues that the players in this complex marketplace are tackling.
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ML Strategies Health Care Preview - Week of February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

This week, we explore the Administration's proposed rule related to AKS safe harbors and what it means for the drug pricing debate. On Capitol Hill, Democrats in both chambers are beginning to examine behaviors by various companies in an effort to drive home the need for additional oversight. It's clear that drug pricing is going to be a hot topic for this Congress. What's unclear is whether both sides can find consensus in proposals that lower drug costs. We cover this and more in this week's preview, which you can find by...
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ML Strategies Health Care Preview - Week of January 28, 2019

January 29, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

The shutdown fight is over for now and Congress is ready to get the work of the 116th Congress underway. This week, there will be four relevant hearings to health care stakeholders, two of which will center around prescription drug pricing. The other two will look at pre-existing conditions and community health center related policies. On the regulatory side, we wait and see if the Administration will be putting forth any regulations in this space, in particular the discount safe harbor rule.
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Arizona 1115 Medicaid Waiver Update

January 22, 2019 | Blog | By Emma Zimmerman

In 2014, Arizona expanded Medicaid to the new adult group. Following the expansion, Arizona submitted, and CMS approved, an 1115 waiver extension to create the Choice, Accountability, Responsibility, Engagement (CARE) program. CARE adds premiums and cost sharing, healthy behavior incentive programs, and flexible spending accounts, called CARE Accounts, for certain adults in the expansion population. The program is approved to run through September 30, 2021.
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ML Strategies Health Care Preview - Week of January 22nd

January 22, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

While Congress is still mired in a partial government shutdown, the Administration is continuing to put out relevant health care regulations and approving new Medicaid work requirements. With the first health care hearings of 2019 beginning next week, we should get a sense of the level of oversight the Administration will be facing this Congress. We cover this and more in this week's health care preview.
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The Buzz About Block Grants

January 16, 2019 | Blog

With the recent scoop from Politico that the Trump Administration is considering giving states the ability to implement Medicaid block grants, there has been considerable speculation on what the Administration is planning. Although we don’t know exactly what the Administration has in mind, there increasing skepticism on the legality of this move. So we are laying out the fundamentals and past history as we await the final guidance.
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ML Strategies Health Care Preview - January 14, 2019

January 15, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

While Congress and the Administration are dug in entering the third week of a partial government shutdown, both branches of government are looking to shape other policy areas in 2019. The Administration is reportedly looking at reforming the Medicaid program and Congress is ramping up its oversight of prescription drug prices.

We cover this and what it will mean for this Congress in this week's preview.
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ML Strategies Health Care Preview - Week of January 7, 2019

January 7, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan

The partial government shutdown is on its 17th day with no end in sight. In this week's preview, we discuss how reaching a solution is challenging for both sides and implications for legislating going forward. We also cover some of the latest polling on health care issues, which may offer a preview into messaging in this space over the next two years.
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On Friday, December 14th, Judge O’Connor, a Texas Federal District Court Judge, ruled on the case Texas vs. Azar. As background, Texas vs. Azar was filed by 20 Republican state attorneys general and governors. The plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and argue that since the individual mandate has been repealed, or more technically zeroed out, the rest of the ACA must be struck down. They argue that the individual mandate cannot be severed from the ACA given its key structural role in the law. The Department of Justice agreed with some, but not all parts, of this argument, and sixteen states and DC are defending the ACA.
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