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Joanne Hawana is Of Counsel in the firm and is based in our Washington, DC office. Her practice focuses on advising US and international clients in the food, drug, medical device and biotechnology industries on the business impacts of new US federal and state actions affecting regulated products. Joanne has in-depth knowledge of US federal drug regulations, including pre-market and post-market requirements as well as restrictions on advertising and sampling. She regularly works with clients to draft and submit public comments to agency rulemaking dockets, and frequently analyzes and summarizes new legislation and regulations with client interests in mind.

On a sweltering hot D.C. morning, those of us anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court’s opinion in its first case involving biosimilar biological products finally exhaled. The June 12, 2017 opinion followed the parties’ oral arguments on the last day of the Court’s October 2016 Term, as we previously reported. With respect to both of the significant issues presented, the Justices unanimously reversed the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals split opinion and remanded for further consideration of questions related to State law.

Although our intellectual property colleagues have separately analyzed the “Patent Dance” implications of the Court’s decision in Amgen v. Sandoz (see here), the second issue presented in the case related to the proper interpretation of the 180-day notice provision of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”). The Federal Circuit had held that such notice by the biosimilar applicant can only be provided to the reference product sponsor after FDA licenses (i.e., approves) the biosimilar application.  Continue Reading SCOTUS Ruling Gives a Boost to Biosimilars; FDA Continues to Advance Products Through AdComs

During his first appearance before Congress as FDA Commissioner on May 25, 2017, Scott Gottlieb reported that the Agency is preparing a “Drug Competition Action Plan” that it will unveil in upcoming weeks and months. This was likely welcome news to many politicians from both parties, as well as to President Trump, who has publicly shamed pharmaceutical companies for the high prices of their products but has done little to advance concrete policies in this area.

Dr. Gottlieb has been consistent over the years, including during his recent confirmation process, in his view that FDA should take a more active role in fostering competition and reducing unnecessary regulatory barriers. So it was not surprising when he was selected by Trump to lead the Agency, nor when he received a relatively warm welcome from Senators concerned about the direction prices have been going in recent years. Continue Reading FDA Commissioner Hints at Drug Pricing-Related Initiatives

On May 11, 2017, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee voted in support of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, or FDARA, now formally moving through the legislative process as S. 934.  The committee voted almost unanimously to move the bipartisan bill forward, with only Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voting against it.  And in an interesting overlap of FDA-related news, the Agency’s brand-new Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, was also sworn in on May 11th following a speedy (albeit politically controversial and party-line) confirmation process and Senate vote.  With less than a week on the job, Dr. Gottlieb is already receiving pressure from varied stakeholders to ensure the user fee legislation is enacted in a timely manner in order to avoid disrupting the Agency’s work. Continue Reading FDA User Fee Legislation Moves Forward in Senate with Multiple Policy Riders On-Board

Just as the public comment period for the bicameral, bipartisan discussion draft of the “FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017” ended on Friday, what we have been calling the User Fee Games got even more interesting and engaging.  As we previously reported, a discussion draft of the FDA Reauthorization Act was released jointly by leaders of the Senate HELP Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee two weeks prior to that comment deadline.  It now seems that the late start to the 2017 user fee legislative process – along with the rapid approach of summer and the risk of Agency layoffs if this five-year reauthorization cycle is not completed before August – has gotten everyone pushing on the accelerator a bit. Continue Reading More Bipartisan Bills Hope to Catch a Ride on the UFA Reauthorization Legislation

MedicalTechnologies_Tubes2We recently updated our chart that tracks state biosimilar substitution laws to include new laws in Iowa and Montana. These new laws bring the total number of states with biosimilar substitution laws to 27, plus Puerto Rico. The latest version of our chart can be found here. As with the laws we’ve seen before, both the Iowa and Montana biosimilar amendments mirror the state’s existing generic drug substitution laws. More specifically, they amend state pharmacy laws to allow, and in some situations require, the substitution of interchangeable biosimilars. Continue Reading New State Substitution Laws, and a Busy Spring for Biosimilars

On April 14, 2017, leaders from the Senate HELP Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee released the first discussion draft of the 2017 FDA user fee reauthorization bill. As we’ve been reporting (see here and here for our past coverage), these two committees have held numerous public hearings since the beginning of March to learn more about FDA’s “big 4” user fee programs – for prescription drugs, medical devices, generic drugs, and biosimilars.  Continue Reading Congressional Leaders Seek Input in UFA Reauthorization Draft Bill by April 28, 2017

As we noted previously in our introductory blog post on the 2017 User Fee Act (UFA) reauthorization process, the first UFA hearing on Capitol Hill was convened on March 2, 2017 by the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s (E&C) Subcommittee on Health.  That hearing focused on the UFAs specific to generic drugs and biosimilar biological products.  Since then, Congress has held several more UFA hearings, and multiple FDA-related bipartisan bills that could become important to this process have been introduced.  So it’s time for an update on how things are going with the UFA reauthorizations. Continue Reading FDA User Fee Hearings Picking Up Steam on Capitol Hill

In the alphabet soup that is health and FDA law and policy (if you don’t know what we mean, are you sure you should be reading this blog?), one acronym that doesn’t get a lot of respect is “UFA.” This is the first is a series of blog posts that aim to educate and inform our readers about why the UFA acronym matters and how the UFA legislative process may be particularly significant in 2017.

UFA stands for “User Fee Act,” of which there are many flavors in this modern era – from the old-timer Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), born in 1992, to the more toddler-ish Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) that joined us in 2012. Other important UFAs for the U.S. health care system and stakeholders are the Medical Device User Fee Amendments (MDUFA), which were enacted first in 2002, and the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (GDUFA) that launched at the same time as their biosimilar companion. Continue Reading Let the 2017 “UFA” Games Begin!

As we’ve previously discussed on Health Law and Policy Matters, agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) pushed through several final rules towards the end of the Obama Administration (see here and here). However, since taking office, President Trump has followed through on his campaign promise to significantly roll back Federal regulations and has taken several actions aimed at slowing and reversing agency regulatory processes, including processes at the DHHS sub-agencies CMS and FDA. These executive actions are creating a climate of uncertainty for regulated industries and their stakeholders. Continue Reading Trump Executive Orders Create Uncertainty for Health Care & Pharmaceutical Industries

As we enter a new era in which executive agencies are headed by President Trump, we are also faced with many other transformative changes that will affect FDA-regulated entities in a significant and lasting way. This post will outline some of our thoughts related to what could face FDA and its various stakeholders as we go forward into the great unknown.

First, since being signed into law by former President Obama on December 13th, we’ve been writing and speaking about the myriad provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. This wide-ranging law has many mandates for agency actions and new guidance documents, which FDA will be working on beginning this year, but far beyond 2017 as well. Drug, biologic, and medical device stakeholders are also awaiting the outcome of the upcoming reauthorization of all the major User Fee Acts that are “must-pass” legislation before the end of the current fiscal year (FY17 ends on September 30th), in order to ensure FDA’s continuing operations. Many other policy changes that are expected to result from the switch from a Democratic-led to a Republican-led Executive Branch, the latter also being supported by a GOP-controlled Congress, will likely have major impacts on medical product developers.  Continue Reading FDA’s Enforcement Priorities Likely to Change in 2017 and Other “Unknowable Knowns”