Trouble for House drug pricing bill: Moderates signal concerns with Pelosi measure

A group of 10 moderate House Democrats is signaling concerns with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) signature legislation to lower prescription drug prices, raising further doubts about the legislation’s path forward.

Their letter to Pelosi calls for a drug pricing measure to be bipartisan and to “preserve our invaluable innovation ecosystem,” pointing to concerns that a bill could hurt drug companies’ ability to develop new drugs.

“We must garner bipartisan, bicameral support, with buy-in from a majority of Americans and stakeholders in the public and private sectors,” states the letter, sent earlier this month and obtained by The Hill. “If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we all, truly, must be in this together.”

The letter, which was first reported by Stat, was led by Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.).

Uncertain path: Pelosi has made the drug pricing measure a priority, but its path was already unclear. President Biden left the measure out of his American Families Plan, despite pressure from many congressional Democrats, though in his address to lawmakers last month he did call for Congress to pass drug pricing legislation this year.

Democrats could add drug pricing back into the families plan as it makes its way through Congress, and progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) are pushing for it.

But H.R. 3 also could be too strong to get through the Senate, where Democrats hold only 50 seats.