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Senate HELP advances PAHPA extension

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Senate HELP Committee advanced its PAHPA reauthorization Thursday on a bipartisan 17–3 vote.

Why it matters: The Senate has bipartisan agreement on the legislation, in contrast to the House, which is still divided.

Between the lines: The Senate bill includes measures aimed at fighting drug shortages, an area that has divided the parties in the House.

  • Chairman Bernie Sanders also talked up a provision to study alternative incentives for drug development like prizes, an idea that has drawn pharmaceutical industry objections.
  • More broadly, the PAHPA legislation includes a range of proposals, from steps to improve public health data to new procedures for overseeing the Strategic National Stockpile.

Yes, but: Although the markup was mostly bipartisan, there were some clashes between Sanders and Sen. Rand Paul.

  • For example, Paul's amendment to ban federal funding for gain of function research in China failed on a party-line 10–11 vote.
  • Sanders acknowledged the issue is important but said the underlying bill already takes steps on that front and he does not want to be "jeopardizing international collaboration" on medical research.
  • Paul and Sens. Mike Braun and Tommy Tuberville voted no on the underlying bill.
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