House Passes Legislation to Speed Drug Classification

The House passed legislation last week that would require the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to classify drugs within a specified timeline with the aim of getting new treatments to market faster and improving patient access to therapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bipartisan H.R. 639, the “Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act,” was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) Under current law, the DEA does not face a deadline for scheduling new drugs after they are approved by the FDA. H.R. 639 would require the DEA to classify drugs that haven’t been previously sold in the U.S. within 90 days.

New Study Shows Moderate Premium Increases Last Year

The cost of the cheapest health insurance exchange plan increased by an average of 2.9 percent nationally, according to new research released by the Urban Institute. Premium increases varied by region, ranging from a 1.8 percent increase in the Northeast to a 5.4 percent increase in the South. The Northeast, however, continues to have the highest premium costs in the country at an average of $284 per month. Premiums in cities rose less than their state average, while rural areas generally experienced a higher rise in premiums than the rest of their state. The report found that insurers often contained rates by limiting provider networks.

Upcoming Congressional Meetings and Hearings

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee: hearing titled “Continuing America’s Leadership: Advancing Research and Development for Patients;” a list of witnesses can be found here; 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; March 24

House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight: hearing titled “Use of Data to Stop Medicare Fraud;” 10:00 a.m., B-318 Rayburn Bldg.; March 24

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee: hearing titled “Examining the 340B Drug Pricing Program;” a list of witnesses can be found here; 10:00 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; March 24

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies: hearing on proposed fiscal 2016 appropriations for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; a list of witnesses can be found here; 8:30 a.m., 2358-C Rayburn Bldg.; March 25

Senate Special Aging Committee: hearing titled “The Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease: Are We on Track to Treatment by 2025?” 2:15 p.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg.; March 25

House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee: hearing titled “Examining the Growing Problems of Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse: State and Local Perspectives;” 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; March 26

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee: hearing titled “Veterans Affairs Opioid Prescription Policy, Practice and Procedures;” 10:00 a.m., 418 Russell Bldg.; March 26

Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control: hearing on the quota system used to manage controlled substances; time and place TBD; April 14

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee: hearing titled “Examining Access and Quality of Care and Services for Women Veterans;” 10:30 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.; April 30

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