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Sanders, Cassidy reach deal on PBM, generic bills

Sanders and Cassidy at the Moderna hearing March 22. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Bill Cassidy on Tuesday announced a deal on drug cost legislation ahead of a markup on May 2.

Why it matters: It's not every day you see a bipartisan deal with Sanders and Cassidy, the new leaders of the Senate HELP Committee.

  • The legislation is definitely different than what Sanders usually proposes on drug prices, but it's still notable.
  • A new bill from Sanders, Cassidy, and Sens. Patty Murray and Roger Marshall would impose transparency measures on PBMs, as well as provisions limiting "spread pricing" and ensuring full rebate pass-through to the health plan.
  • Other bills would seek to ease the way for competition from generic drugs, including a measure on reforming citizen petitions.

What they're saying: “We are happy to announce that we’ve come to an agreement to consider critical pieces of legislation to reform pharmacy benefit managers and expand the availability of low-cost generic drugs through the HELP Committee," Sanders and Cassidy said in a joint statement.

  • The move adds to growing momentum around PBM changes, with measures from Senate Commerce and House E&C also moving.
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