WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN ) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced that the Preserving Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act and the Stop Significant and Time-wasting Abuse Limiting Legitimate Innovation of New Generics (Stop STALLING) Act to reduce drug costs have passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs in our country is an urgent problem impacting millions of Americans, and there are solutions on the table to help them access the medications they need at prices they can afford. We must take action to put an end to industry practices that undermine competition in the pharmaceutical industry and delay the approval of more affordable drugs. Now that these bipartisan bills have passed the Judiciary Committee, we are one step closer to doing just that,” Klobuchar said.
“At almost every county meeting, I hear from Iowans who are concerned about the rising cost of prescription drugs. Our constituents shouldn’t be worried about buying their much-needed medication or putting food on the table,” Grassley said. “These commonsense bills will make it easier for patients to access less costly generic prescription drugs. I’m glad my colleagues agreed with Senator Klobuchar and me to pass these bipartisan proposals out of committee.”
The Preserving Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act would limit anticompetitive “pay-for-delay deals” that prevent or delay the introduction of affordable follow-on versions of branded pharmaceuticals. Pay-for-delay deals – the practice in which drug companies use pay-off agreements to delay the introduction of cheaper substitutes – increase the cost of prescriptions and impose significant costs on our health care system. The legislation covers pay-for-delay deals affecting biosimilar and interchangeable biologics in addition to generic drugs. Senators Dick Durbin (R-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are cosponsors of the bill.
The Stop STALLING Act would reduce the incentives for branded pharmaceutical companies to file sham petitions with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to interfere with the regulatory approval of generics and biosimilars that would compete with their own products, a tactic that delays patient access to more affordable medications. The bill would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enhanced authority to take action against those who file sham petitions. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are cosponsors of this bill.
As Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has championed efforts to protect consumers, promote competition, and fight consolidation in several industries.
In March, she introduced the Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act to allow Medicare to negotiate the best price of prescription drugs for seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Current law expressly bans Medicare from negotiating for better prices. By harnessing the bargaining power of the nearly 46 million seniors enrolled in the program, Medicare could negotiate bigger discounts from pharmaceutical companies. This bill is co-sponsored by 33 other senators.
In February, Klobuchar introduced the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act – sweeping legislation to reinvigorate America’s antitrust laws and restore competition to American markets. This legislation would give federal enforcers the resources they need to do their jobs, strengthen prohibitions on anticompetitive conduct and mergers, and make additional reforms to improve enforcement.
She has led the fight against anticompetitive conduct in the pharmaceutical industry, sponsoring multiple pieces of legislation. Last year, Klobuchar’s Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, which prevents abusive tactics that hinder affordable drugs from entering the market, was passed into law.
Additionally, Klobuchar 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 and online travel industries.