Klobuchar highlighted her proposals to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible 

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, led a group of members including Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tina Smith (D-MN) urging action to lower the rising cost of prescription drugs. Klobuchar highlighted major legislation she leads in the Senate to curb escalating drug prices and increase accessibility for Minnesotans and Americans across the country.

“It is unacceptable that the lifesaving treatments and cures are increasingly out of reach for the people who need them the most,” Klobuchar said in her remarks.

“That’s why the Senate must act now to pass legislation that would lower the cost of prescription drugs. Health care is one-sixth of our economy, and out-of-pocket costs account for over 10 percent of our nation’s health care spending, from consumers to hospitals and nursing homes.

“One report found that between 2012 and 2016, the price of branded prescription drugs increased 110 percent. That’s not 11 percent, that is 110 percent. Even drugs that have been available for decades, like insulin, are no longer affordable. It’s outrageous, it is dangerous—and it has real consequences for real people.

“Congress has a duty to act and the president should support these efforts.

“Yes, it is true that there are two pharma lobbyists for every member of Congress. That’s a fact. And for years they have felt that they own Congress. That has to change. They don’t own me and they don’t own the people that are speaking up today.

“There are many options. Alone none of these will fix this problem, but together along with other legislation that has been proposed by my colleagues, we can make a difference. We can no longer pretend this is happening. It is time for us to make a dent, to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, and to stop coddling the pharmaceutical companies.”

Broadcast-quality video of Klobuchar’s remarks is available here.

The Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act, led in the Senate by Klobuchar and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), would enhance the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) ability to crack down on anticompetitive patent settlement agreements in which branded pharmaceutical companies pay their competitors to delay the introduction of more affordable generic drugs and biosimilars. Deterring “pay-for-delay” deals would make some critical prescriptions more affordable for patients and reduce costs on our health care system.

The Stop Significant and Time-wasting Abuse Limiting Legitimate Innovation of New Generics (Stop STALLING) Actled by Klobuchar and Grassley, would reduce the incentives for branded pharmaceutical companies to use the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) petitioning process 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 FTC enhanced authority to take action against those who file sham petitions. 

The CREATES Act, led in the Senate by Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Grassley along with Senators Klobuchar, Lee (R-UT), and others would combat anticompetitive practices used by some brand-name pharmaceutical and biologic companies to delay the approval of lower-cost generic drugs. The bill would address two types of delaying tactics: (1) when brand-name drug companies prevent potential generic competitors from obtaining samples of a product; and (2) when brand-name drug companies block their generic competitors from participating in shared safety programs to ensure drugs are used safely. Both of these tactics prevent generic companies from performing the necessary testing and distribution necessary for FDA approval. By combatting these anticompetitive practices, the CREATES Act would help consumers access lower-cost generic drugs more quickly. 

Klobuchar has long supported efforts to combat anti-competitive tactics in the pharmaceutical market and lower prescription drug costs by promoting competition in the healthcare system. Klobuchar introduced the Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act—that has 34 cosponsors—to lift the ban on Medicare negotiating for the best possible price of prescription drugs for nearly 43 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. In January, Klobuchar and Grassley introduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, bipartisan legislation that would allow individuals to safely import prescription drugs from Canada. Klobuchar’s Short on Competition Act, introduced with Senators Lee, Grassley, and Durbin would allow the temporary importation of drugs that have been approved in another country with similar safety requirements and face little or no competition in the United States.

In November 2018, Klobuchar and Grassley sent a letter to the President urging him to support legislation to limit anticompetitive “pay-for-delay” pharmaceutical settlements as part of the Administration’s effort to bring down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. Full text of the letter can be found here. In a June 2018 letter, Klobuchar and Grassley urged the FTC to examine whether makers of biologic medicines are using strategies like “pay-for-delay” to hinder or delay biosimilars from entering the market. Full text of the letter can be found here.