Lawmakers Fight High Drug Prices
January 17, 2018
House passes a tariff-relief bill; Lawmakers consider new measure to fight high drug prices; U.S. Industrial Production Up 0.9% in December, compared to 0.4% expected increase.
- House passes a tariff-relief bill. The House on Tuesday easily passed a measure that would eliminate duties on imported raw materials used for production that are not readily available in the United States in a 402-0 vote that sent the so-called Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) to the Senate for action. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the bill’s sponsor, said that the measure will help manufacturers to “better compete globally, create more jobs here at home, and make high-quality ‘Made in America’ products more affordable for families.” The aim of the program, which expired five years ago, is expected to save businesses millions of dollars a year while making them more globally competitive. The bill includes nearly 1,700 eligible petitions for the tariff break as reported by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which vetted applications for duty relief. The Chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers estimate the legislation would eliminate import tariffs of more than $1.1 billion over the next three years and boost U.S. manufacturing output by more than $3.1 billion. [The Hill]
- Lawmakers consider new measure to fight high drug prices. Lawmakers are looking at adding a measure aimed at fighting high drug prices in an upcoming spending deal. The measure, known as the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act, is intended to prevent branded drug companies from using tactics to delay competition from cheaper generic drugs. It is co-sponsored by people from both parties. The measure is estimated to save more than $3 billion. A Senate GOP aide said the measure looks likely to pass. The bill is designed to crack down on branded drug companies that delay the introduction of cheaper generic competitors by refusing to provide the samples of the product needed to perform testing. The measure would also allow a generic company to develop its own safety protocol for a drug rather than have to develop a shared protocol with the branded company. Supporters of the bill say that there will still be rigorous safety standards in place. [The Hill]
Economic Indicators and News
- U.S. Industrial Production Up 0.9% in December, compared to 0.4% expected increase. U.S. industrial production increased by more than expected in December as unseasonably cold winter weather boosted the demand for heating. According to the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, industrial output surged 0.9 percent last month in December after a downwardly revised 0.1 percent decline in November. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted industrial production advancing 0.4 percent last month after a previously reported 0.2 percent increase in November. Industrial production rose at an annual rate of 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter, the largest gain since the second quarter of 2010. For all of 2017, industrial output rose 1.8 percent, the first and largest increase since 2014. However, manufacturing output gained only 0.1 percent in December after rising 0.3 percent in November and jumping 1.5 percent in October. Capacity utilization, a measure of how fully industries are deploying their resources, increased to 77.9 percent from 77.2 percent in November. [CNBC]