WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced that two of their bipartisan bills to promote competition and reduce drug prices - the Preserving Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act and the Stop STALLING Act - have passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by voice vote.
“Anticompetitive tactics and excessive consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry have led to sky-high prices and kept essential medications off the market and out of reach for far too many Americans,” said Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan legislation deters practices such as pay-for-delay and sham petitions that undermine competition and limit Americans’ access to affordable and life-saving drugs. Now that these bills have advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ll keep working to get them passed through the Senate.”
“Drug companies work behind the scenes to block competition in order to keep the cost of their medications high. This is greedy and wrong, and American consumers are suffering as a result. Senator Klobuchar and I have proposed solutions to address abuses and make prescription drugs more affordable. I’m glad to see these bipartisan bills receive committee approval, and the full Senate ought to take action on them without delay,” said Grassley.
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 happen when pharmaceutical drug companies pay brand name companies to delay the introduction of cheaper substitutes – increasing the cost of prescriptions and imposing significant costs on our health care system. The legislation covers pay-for-delay deals affecting biosimilar and interchangeable biologics in addition to generic drugs. The Preserving Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act is cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (R-IL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).
The Stop Significant and Time-wasting Abuse Limiting Legitimate Innovation of New Generics (Stop STALLING) Act would deter pharmaceutical companies from filing sham petitions with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to interfere with the approval of generic and biosimilar medicines that compete with their own brand products, a tactic that delays patient access to affordable medications. The bill would also give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enhanced authority to take action against those who file sham petitions. The STOP STALLING Act is cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).
As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has long led efforts to lower drug prices and combat anticompetitive conduct in the pharmaceutical industry. Provisions from Klobuchar’s bill to empower Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and unleash the power of Medicare’s 50 million seniors to help lower drug prices for all Americans were signed into law last August as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Last June, Klobuchar and Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine the parallel price increases for two commonly-used blood thinner medications: Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ Xarelto and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS)-Pfizer’s Eliquis. The lawmakers expressed concern that lockstep pricing practices and the general lack of competitive behavior exhibited by these drug sellers may constitute potential unlawful conduct.
That same month, Klobuchar joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in calling on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to address the “patent thicket” that pharmaceutical companies use to reduce competition and inflate drug prices.
In March 2022, Klobuchar led a group of bicameral colleagues in calling out drug manufacturers for rapid and widespread price hikes on prescription drugs.
In July 2021, Klobuchar chaired a subcommittee hearing on the need to increase competition in the prescription drug market to lower costs for patients and the health care system.