As the impeachment inquiry continues to heat up, we need to remind Congress about our priorities, so they are not forgotten. If you have not done so, please take a moment to join our online advocacy campaigns concerning NIH Funding and renewal of the Special Diabetes Program.
Drug Pricing Legislation – The House Ways & Means Committee has scheduled a hearing on drug pricing on October 17 (https://waysandmeans.house.gov/legislation/hearings/investing-us-health-system-lowering-drug-prices-reducing-out-pocket-costs-and). We continue to advocate for Congress to address insulin pricing. The hearing comes in the wake of the introduction of a sweeping bill by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), which would give the government authority to negotiate prices for the most expensive drugs based on prices paid in other countries and cap price increases at the rate of inflation and an announcement by Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), who said that he was working with lawmakers to develop a “balanced package: of bills that includes changes for drug manufacturers.
What We Are Working On
Response to EPA Animal Testing Directive – In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a directive to aggressively prioritize reductions in animal testing towards a 30% decrease in such tests by 2025 and complete elimination of requests by the EPA for animal studies by 2035. In a companion memo by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the EPA also announced $4.25 million in research funding to advance the development of alternative test methods for the evaluation of chemicals for toxic effects and directed responsible offices within EPA to provide resources towards activities in support of these goals. Although we share the goal of minimizing animal testing and developing robust alternative methods that can reliably screen and evaluate chemicals for harmful effects, we have expressed concern with the unrealistic timeframes and lack of validated alternative methods to interrogate complex biological processes such as hormonal signaling pathways. We have consistently maintained that current testing strategies are insufficient for the evaluation of the effects of chemicals on hormonal systems. We joined with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) to respond to Administrator Wheeler’s announcement. Our response highlights the limitations of the existing suite of alternative methods and emphasizes the current necessity of conducting toxicological assessments in animal models capable of complete physiological responses to chemical exposures.
It is critical that Congress hear that we need it to complete action on fiscal year 2020 appropriations in a timely and bipartisan manner and that we urge it to provide at least a $2 billion increase for the NIH. If you have not done so, please take a minute to participate in our online advocacy campaign.
It is critical that all members of Congress hear from YOU about why these issues are important!
Access to Diabetes Test Strips - This week we met with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to discuss recent access issues for patients who need diabetes testing supplies over the limit allotted by the agency. Previously, physicians could write a prescription requesting the additional strips for patients who need to test more than three times per day. However, over the past year these overages have been denied at certain pharmacies. We are working with diabetes professional and patient groups, along with the major pharmacies, to address this issue as soon as possible to ensure patients have access to the supplies they need to manage their diabetes.
Bioidentical Hormones Position Statement – Based on some new evidence/publications and with the direction of Endocrine Society members Cynthia Stuenkel and Nanette Santoro, we have updated our position statement on the topic.
Our Latest Policy Communications
Letter of Support for CGM Coverage - We wrote a letter to the Minister of Health and Social Services of the province of Quebec supporting coverage of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) in the public health and prescription drug insurance plan for Quebec.
Cognitive Specialty Coalition Letter to Cigna - We joined this coalition to send a letter to Cigna's Chief Medical Officer in regards to Cigna's new policy on Evaluation and Management (E/M) which will result in Cigna discontinuing payment for consultation services as of October 19, 2019.