The bipartisan Short on Competition Act would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to grant expedited reviews and inspections, and temporary importation when there is, or is likely to be, a drug shortage or when there are fewer than five competitors in a drug market
The Short on Competition Act could address instances of drug companies dramatically increasing prices for older drugs, such as Turing’s Daraprim and Mylan’s EpiPen
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT), the ranking member and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, reintroduced legislation to increase competition in the pharmaceutical industry and lower prices for consumers. They were joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
The bipartisan Short on Competition Act would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to grant expedited reviews and inspections, and temporary importation when there is, or is likely to be, a drug shortage or when there are fewer than five competitors in a market for drugs that have been approved for at least 10 years. The Short on Competition Act could address instances of drug companies dramatically increasing prices for older drugs, such as Turing’s Daraprim 5,000% price increase and Mylan’s EpiPen nearly 500% price increase.
“If drug companies know new competitors can quickly enter the market, maybe they’ll think twice before raising prices in the first place. More competition in the marketplace will lead to more affordable prescription drugs for American consumers,” Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan legislation will help lower drug prices by prioritizing approvals and safely allow temporary drug importation of products to address markets that lack competition.”
“The best way to lower prices and increase quality for any good, even health care, is competition,” Lee said. “This bill is not a comprehensive solution for out of control drug prices, but it is a good first step that will demonstrate how lower government regulation and increased competition can help American patients.”
“Too often, we have seen prices skyrocket for life or death medication--even when these drugs have been around for decades-- because of abusive Pharma monopolies,” Durbin said. “I’m joining my colleagues on this bill because it’s about time Big Pharma was held accountable for its price gouging. There is a bipartisan consensus in Congress to get something done when it comes to lowering prescription drug prices, and I hope this bill is part of that solution.”
"As we’ve seen time and again, when there’s only one option on the market consumers can face exorbitant prices. Better competition in the prescription drug industry leads to better outcomes for patients' pocketbooks and improved access to safe medications,” Grassley said. “Getting more options on the market, as this bill will do, can give consumers an option other than a single artificially high-priced drug."
To ensure safety, temporary importation can only be from certain countries with similar safety and efficacy standards as the U.S. The bill also includes a provision that allows the Secretary to deny temporary importation if there are concerns that the drug is not safe or effective.
As ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has championed efforts to protect consumers, promote competition, and fight consolidation in several industries including the agriculture, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical industries. She has led the fight against anticompetitive conduct in the pharmaceutical industry that increase prescription drug prices, sponsoring multiple pieces of legislation, including the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act to prevent abusive tactics that hinder affordable drugs from entering the market and the bipartisan Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act to crack down on anti-competitive pay-offs in which branded companies pay their generic competitors not to compete as part of a patent settlement. She has called for strong antitrust review and enforcement to protect consumers from mergers that raise prices or harm competition, including Comcast/Time Warner Cable, AT&T/Time Warner Inc., Anheuser-Busch/Miller-Coors, and T-Mobile/Sprint, and consolidation in the agricultural industry and the online travel industry. She has also led the call to protect the independence and integrity of the antitrust enforcement agencies from political interference by the Trump administration.
The Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act of 2019 would restore the original purpose of the Clayton Antitrust Act to promote competition and protect American consumers. The bill would strengthen the current legal standard to help stop harmful consolidation that may materially lessen competition. It would clarify that a merger could violate the statute if it gives a company monopsony power to unfairly lower the prices it pays or wages it offers because of lack of competition among buyers or employers. The bill further strengthens the law to guard against harmful “mega-mergers” and deals that substantially increase market concentration, shifting the burden to the merging companies to prove that their consolidation does not harm competition. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Ed Markey (MA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Cory Booker (NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).
Antitrust enforcement agencies need adequate tools and resources to address the threat of economic concentration, promote competition, and protect consumers. To address that need, Klobuchar has led the Merger Enforcement Improvement Act, which would update merger filing fees for the first time since 2001, lowering the burden on small- and medium-sized businesses, and ensuring that larger deals pay their fair share while also raising revenues. It would also provide agencies with better information post-merger to ensure that merger enforcement is meeting its goals. Senators Ed Markey (MA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Mazie Hirono (HI), Dick Durbin (IL), Cory Booker (NJ), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Angus King (VT), Patrick Leahy (VT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) are cosponsors of the bill.