U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, held a subcommittee hearing on bipartisan legislation to address rising prescription drug prices.
Last week, Lee, Klobuchar, and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act to deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives from entering the marketplace.
“Nearly everyone has a story about sticker shock at the pharmacy counter, or anger at learning the drug they need isn’t covered by their health insurance,” Lee said. “Unfortunately complex regulatory environments are being abused by some firms to avoid competition and keep prices high. Our CREATES Act aims to lower prices and increase access by creating two causes of action by which generic competitors can end such abuse.”
“Today’s hearing was an opportunity to discuss the need to take action on our bipartisan legislation to protect American consumers from the anticompetitive practices used by some brand-name pharmaceutical and biologic companies,” Klobuchar said. “We examined how these harmful practices result in unjustified inflation that drives up prescription drug costs for everyone. By working to ensure that those decisions are driven by competition, not anti-consumer actions from pharmaceutical companies, the CREATES Act prevents companies from strategically blocking generic approval. This would potentially save consumers billions of dollars in prescription drug costs and allow consumers to focus on their health, rather than the cost of their prescriptions.”
The CREATES Act would empower Medicare to negotiate for the best possible price of prescription medication, allow the safe import of drugs from Canada, and crack down on deals that prevent affordable generics from reaching the market. The legislation, a version of which was introduced in the House last year, is strongly supported by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association of America (GPHA), consumer groups including AARP, Consumers Union, Public Citizen and Families USA; the American College of Physicians; the American Hospital Association; the AFL-CIO; and the National Coalition on Health Care.
An outline of the CREATES Act can be found here, and text of legislation can be found here.