House lawmakers' latest target in addressing high drug prices: Generic competition

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The House Committee on Energy & Commerce Health subcommittee held a hearing to consider measures to address the problem of high prescription drug costs. (Pixabay)

Tactics used by drug companies to delay generic competition are the target of a collection of bills being considered by lawmakers in the latest efforts to address the high price of precision drugs.

“For too long, people have been subjected to the abuse of the patent system by pharmaceutical companies and generic companies entering into agreements and employing tactics that block the competition and keep prices high,” Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., during a hearing by the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Health subcommittee on Wednesday.

The subcommittee had seven potential measures to consider, including bills aimed at addressing drug company tactics used to restrict access by generic drug makers to their samples or to pay generic competitors with exclusivity to delay the release of a generic competitor.

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They are also eyeing measures to amend the Purple and Orange books used by the Food and Drug Administration to inform manufacturers about active patents.

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While the different bills up for consideration in committee would employ different tactics, each would be aimed at introducing competition into the market sooner, moving drugs to the market more quickly and lowering costs, Eshoo said.

It’s the latest in growing interest by Congress to address the problem of high prescription drug costs, prioritized by the Trump administration with the release of a prescription drug price blueprint last May. It’s also a shift in focus from efforts which, so far, have largely focused on the lack of price transparency, on the role of payers such as Medicare in negotiating prices, the impact of overseas markets and on hidden financial arrangements involving pharmacy benefit managers.

See the hearing below.

 

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