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Sens. Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Senate Finance Committee leaders have asked 5 pharmacy benefit managers to come up to Capitol Hill for a hearing, as a follow-up to the panel's largely anticlimactic sit-down with pharmaceutical CEOs last month.

Why it matters: Pharma used its hearing to point the finger at PBMs. Now they may get a chance to defend themselves and try to shift the political blame back to pharma and its list prices.

Where it stands: Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) want to hear from Cigna, CVS Caremark, Humana, OptumRx and Prime Therapeutics. Despite the bipartisan tenor of the drug-pricing debate, agreement on actual policy remains hard to come by, at least for now.

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing today on several bills designed to enhance competition — including the CREATES Act, which would improve generics' access to product samples.
  • But even those smaller-bore bills are controversial. "They're all partisan bills ... In their present form, they need work," Rep. Greg Walden said.

What we're hearing: As Vitals reported yesterday, President Trump's budget proposal revived a handful of policy ideas worth keeping an eye on as potential sources of compromise, including a new cap on seniors' out-of-pocket drug costs.

  • There's bipartisan interest in such a limit, but big differences on the details. Wyden has proposed a cap of $2,650, while Trump's version would effectively fall closer to $6,350, my colleague Caitlin Owens notes.
  • Grassley says he supports an out-of-pocket limit, but hasn't endorsed a specific plan.

Go deeper: Big Pharma won its last Capitol Hill hearing

Go deeper

17 mins ago - Podcasts

Bob Nelsen on AstraZeneca and his plan to revolutionize biotech

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford on Monday reported promising efficacy data for their COVID-19 vaccine, which has less stringent storage requirements than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and may be distributed earlier in developing countries.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of vaccine and therapeutics manufacturing with Bob Nelsen, a successful biotech investor who on Monday launched Resilience, a giant new pharma production platform that he believes will prepare America for its next major health challenges.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Updated 24 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Unpacking Joe Biden's decision to tap John Kerry as his climate envoy

Photo: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is naming former Secretary of State John Kerry as a special presidential envoy for climate change.

Why it matters: The transition team's announcement sought to show that it will be an influential role, noting that Kerry — a former Massachusetts senator and the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee — will be on the National Security Council.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries

Waiting, in New Delhi. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

While the 95% efficacy rates for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are great news for the U.S. and Europe, Monday's announcement from Oxford and AstraZeneca may be far more significant for the rest of the world.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca plan to distribute their vaccine at cost (around $3-4 per dose), and have already committed to providing over 1 billion doses to the developing world. The price tags are higher for the Pfizer ($20) and Moderna ($32-37) vaccines.