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12:00 AM
 | 
Nov 23, 2009
 |  BioCentury  |  Politics, Policy & Law

Buried in the Bulbous Book

Few if any members of Congress will read the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced last week, and people who have other things to do with their lives shouldn't even attempt to do so. But there are a few sections that could be compelling reading for biotech and pharma companies.

Executives struggling to keep emerging biotech companies alive can ignore most of the mammoth unified Senate healthcare reform bill and skip straight to page 2,057, where they'll find the "Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Credit."

The credit, as described in the last 17 pages of the bill, provides tax credits or grants for 50% of R&D expenses for drugs, diagnostics or delivery devices to companies employing 250 or fewer employees. If the credit makes it into the final law, $1 billion would be injected into small medical product developers over two years, after which it expires.

Managers of companies of any size whose products are administered in hospitals will want to turn to page 1,906. There, they will learn about proposals to expand an obscure provision of the Public Health Service Act, the 340B program, that requires manufacturers to give deep discounts on outpatient drugs to hospitals and clinics that bear the brunt of providing healthcare to low income and other special populations.

The reader will find that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seeks to require manufacturers to offer 340B discounts for inpatient drugs, a step which pharmaceutical industry executives say potentially could cost manufacturers of products like infused cancer therapies billions of dollars over the next decade.

There is good news on page 813 for manufacturers of complex molecular diagnostics: a two-year pilot program to exempt their products from Medicare billing procedures that create disincentives for hospitals to order tests during the first two weeks following a patient's discharge (see BioCentury, Oct....

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