Overnight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturersPosted by On

Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re gearing up for the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses. Expect questions on Medicare for All and keep a close eye for any jabs between Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden most trusted among Democratic primary voters on foreign relations: poll Warren: Sanders said a woman could not win the White House Hill.TV’s Saagar Enjeti warns Biden’s Iraq record could be general election issue MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden most trusted among Democratic primary voters on foreign relations: poll Warren: Sanders said a woman could not win the White House Conservatives slam Warren’s call to put transgender women in women’s prisons MORE (D-Mass.).

Back in Washington, a House panel is set to examine federal marijuana policies, lawmakers are expressing alarm over a rise in cocaine overdose deaths, and Democrats want the HHS inspector general to keep an eye on Tennessee’s Medicaid waiver.

But we’ll start with a look at how the drug industry is handling the US-Mexico trade deal…


Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat

The pharmaceutical industry suffered a rare loss in the North American trade deal the Senate will pass as soon as this week, but they’re not waging a full-scale battle against the agreement. 

Sources familiar with the strategy say the industry is working to get senators on record in support of including the market exclusivity protections it lost in this deal in future trade agreements with other countries but that drug companies are also not trying to get GOP senators to vote against the USMCA, a likely impossible task.

Instead, the industry, worried about the precedent this deal sets, is trying to stem its losses and build support for including the intellectual property protections in future trade deals with countries like China.

Sign of things to come? Both sides in the fight over high drug prices wonder whether the industry loss is a sign of more sweeping changes to come as other legislation looms.

“My hope is that we’re starting to see senators be more independent on pharma issues,” Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenAppeals court skeptical of Trump rule on TV drug ads Democratic groups launch ad campaign attacking Trump, GOP on drug pricing Drug price outrage threatens to be liability for GOP MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview. But he noted that the lessons from the trade deal for the broader drug pricing debate can only go so far because “the coalitions for trade are different than they are on pharmaceuticals.”

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House panel set to examine federal marijuana policies

A House panel on Wednesday is set to examine some of the barriers to marijuana research amid a growing disconnect between federal and state policies. 

“There is a chasm between the federal laws and what over 30 states are doing,” Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooPowerful House panel to hold ‘Medicare for All’ hearing next week Democrats request info on Google-Ascension partnership Democrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data MORE (D-Calif.) told The Hill in an interview Tuesday.  

Eshoo, the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, said she wants to hear from officials at the Food and Drug Administration, as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency explain why the federal government is potentially blocking research into the effects of marijuana.

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, meaning it is in the same category as drugs like heroin and LSD. According to the federal government, it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value.

The hearing is expected to explore the barriers to cannabis research, federal efforts to review and approve cannabidiol (CBD) products, as well as several pieces of cannabis-related legislation.

Read more here.


House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers

The top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is reopening an investigation into three drug companies that make opioids over their role in the epidemic of overdose deaths. 

Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenDrug price outrage threatens to be liability for GOP Overnight Energy: Dems outline legislation to make US carbon neutral by 2050 | 2019 was second warmest year on record | Top Republican says ‘forever chemical’ bill won’t move in Senate Democrats outline sweeping legislation to make U.S. carbon neutral by 2050 MORE (R-Ore.), along with Reps. Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieShimkus announces he will stick with plan to retire after reconsidering Hillicon Valley: Tech grapples with California ‘gig economy’ law | FCC to investigate Sprint over millions in subsidies | House bill aims to protect telecom networks | Google wins EU fight over ‘right to be forgotten’ | 27 nations sign cyber rules pact House bill aims to secure telecom networks against foreign interference MORE (R-Ky.) and Morgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithHouse GOP reactivates investigation into opioid manufacturers over role in crisis The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Overnight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA MORE (R-Va.), sent letters on Tuesday to the companies with new questions about whether they could have done more earlier to stem the tide of opioid-related deaths. 

The lawmakers wrote to Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics, following up on letters sent in August 2018 and requesting more information.

Topics include:

  • Pressing Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, which helped drive the epidemic, about evidence that it knew about the drug being abused as early as 1997. 
  • Asking Mallinckrodt about a company official’s comments in a deposition that she alerted management in 2008 that its suspicious-order-monitoring system was faulty. 

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Lawmakers express alarm over rise in cocaine overdose deaths

The bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are raising alarm over an increase in overdose deaths from cocaine and methamphetamine. 

The lawmakers wrote to the Trump administration requesting a briefing on the fight against these drugs by Feb. 4. 

While much attention has been placed on the epidemic of deaths from opioids, the lawmakers point out that overdose deaths from other kinds of drugs have been increasing in recent years and should not fly under the radar. 

“We are concerned that while the nation, rightly so, is devoting much of its attention and resources to the opioid epidemic, another epidemic–this one involving cocaine and methamphetamine–is on the rise,” wrote Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware House passes anti-robocall bill Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE (R-Texas), Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteOvernight Health Care: Trump knocks ‘mini Mike Bloomberg’ over health care | Appeals court skeptical of Trump rule on TV drug ads | Oklahoma sues opioid distributors Overnight Energy: Trump moves to rollback bedrock environmental law | Dems, greens blast changes | Trump says ‘nothing’s a hoax’ about climate change | Youth climate group endorses Sanders Bipartisan lawmakers attempt to drum up opposition to proposed changes of environmental law MORE (D-Colo.) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.).

Read more here


Democrats warn against Tennessee Medicaid block grant

A pair of Democrats from the House and Senate want a government watchdog…

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