The Senate Judiciary Committee today unanimously advanced four bipartisan bills aimed at improving access to affordable prescription medications. The bills are cosponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s ranking member, and represent part of his multi-pronged approach to reducing the cost of prescription drugs for all Americans.
“At almost every one of my county meetings, I hear directly from Iowans who are seriously concerned about the rising cost of prescription drugs,” Grassley said. “These commonsense bills will make it easier for patients to access generic prescription drugs by holding drug companies accountable for any anticompetitive behavior without interfering with their innovation. I’m glad my colleagues agree and voted to pass these bipartisan proposals out of committee. I’ll continue my work to improve affordability for medications, but these bills are a great step in the right direction.”
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.
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 or generic 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.
The Prescription Pricing for the People Act requires the FTC to examine the effects of consolidation on pricing and other potentially abusive behavior within the PBM industry, and provide policy recommendations to Congress to improve competition and protect consumers.
The Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act would curb major drug companies’ abuse of patents through product hopping and ever-greening tactics that prevent generic and biosimilar competition from coming to market.
Grassley is also the author of the bipartisan Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act, a comprehensive drug pricing reform measure that advanced out of the Finance Committee with broad bipartisan support under Grassley’s leadership last Congress.