(Bloomberg) -- Democrats working on President Joe Biden’s big social-spending bill are discussing a proposal to limit the main tool for lowering drug prices to medicines that already face competition, people familiar with the talks said.

The White House proposal, viewed as an effort to win over holdout lawmakers including Senator Kyrsten Sinema, would exempt new drugs and many with the biggest price tags. The change would be a major shift away from earlier proposals that focused mostly on drugs that face no competition.   

Drugs with government-granted exclusivity would be exempt from proposed drug-price negotiation provision, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The provision is set to be included in the domestic policy package that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday is “more than 90% is agreed to and written.” 

A person close to Democratic Congressional leaders confirmed the shift in approach, which is still under debate and is meant to win support from party moderates who have balked at previous drug-pricing proposals. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, whose panel is key to the revenue side of Biden’s agenda, declined to comment on Saturday.

Democrats have sought to empower the government to negotiate for lower prices from drug makers whose products are bought by Medicare and to penalize companies that refuse. 

A separate provision to seek rebates from drug makers that raise the cost of their products remains intact. 


©2021 Bloomberg L.P.