WASHINGTON, Feb 9 (Reuters) — The U.S.Senate Judiciary Committee approved three bipartisan bills on a voice vote on Thursday addressing tactics used to delay cheap generic versions of branded prescription drugs from reaching the market.
Lawmakers from both parties and the Biden administration have made addressing the high cost of medical care a priority.As recently as this week, President Joe Biden called for a $35 per month cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs in his State of the Union address.
The Senate committee approved a bill that would limit pay-for-delay deals, where brand name drug companies offer incentives to competitors to delay bringing out cheaper generic medicines.Another measure it approved is aimed at stopping drug companies from making a small change in a medicine, getting a new patent and using the new patent to make it harder for a generic medicine to come to market, a practice known as ‘product hopping.’
A third bill approved on Thursday would tackle the problem of drug companies filing meritless citizen petitions with the Food and Drug Administration in order to slow the agency’s approval of a competing generic.
The panel also approved a measure that would require the U.S.
Federal Trade Commission to write a report on pharmacy benefit managers, middlemen between drug manufacturers and pharmacies, to determine whether they charge Medicare and Medicaid more than pharmacies, steer patients to pharmacies that they own or use data from competing pharmacies.
The FTC has a PBM study underway.
PhRMA, whose members include some of the biggest drug companies, said that pharmacy benefit managers and insurers capture half of the money spent on brand name medicines. It also argued that the product-hopping bill would hurt innovation that occurs after a medicine hits the market and could lead to a better way to use a drug to treat patients.
None of the measures voted on Thursday currently have a companion bill in the House of Representatives. Bills to tackle sham petitions and product-hopping have been introduced in previous years and a bill to stop the practice of paying to delay generic entrance passed the House in 2019.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Andrea Ricci)