Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today held the first Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee oversight hearing of the 113th Congress on the enforcement of antitrust laws. At the hearing, Klobuchar questioned Department of Justice Antitrust Division Assistant Attorney General William Baer and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez on promoting competition and cracking down on anti-competitive practices. Klobuchar highlighted her work to fight pay-for-delay deals that keep less expensive generic drugs off the market and scrutinize airline mergers like the proposed American Airlines-US Airways deal.

“Antitrust issues are not Republican or Democratic issues – they are consumer issues.  We can all agree that robust competition is essential to our free-market economy and critical to ensuring that people get the best prices and choices,”Klobuchar said. “Whether it’s challenging anticompetitive practices like pay-for-delay settlement agreements that keep cheaper generic drugs from coming onto the market, reviewing mergers to make sure they won't harm consumers and competition, or stopping price-fixing cartels, vigilant antitrust enforcement means more innovation and more money in the pockets of American families.”

Klobuchar has been a leader in Congress on working to advance consumer protection and promote competition. In her first hearing as chair of the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, Klobuchar questioned airline industry executives and antitrust experts about the proposed American Airlines-US Airways merger impact on airline prices and services for consumers. Klobuchar also pressed airline executives to commit to continue serving small- and mid-sized metropolitan areas and called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a thorough study of the airline industry to examine the impact airline consolidation has had on consumers and competition.

Earlier this year Klobuchar also introduced legislation with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to put an end to pay-for-delay settlements, the practice of brand-name drug manufacturers using pay-off agreements to keep more affordable generic equivalents off the market. These agreements delay generic entry into the market nearly 17 months longer on average than agreements without payments. These pay-off settlements (also known as “reverse payments”) delay consumer access to cost-saving generic drugs, which can be as much as 90 percent cheaper than brand-name drugs. Klobuchar and Grassley’s legislation would make such practices illegal, and according to The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), would accelerate the availability of lower-priced generic drugs and generate over $4.7 billion in budget savings to the Federal Treasury between fiscal years 2012 and 2021.

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