Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05)’s bipartisan bill to lower drug costs passed overwhelmingly in the Senate today after passing unanimously in the House last month as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017. Generic drugs save taxpayers and consumers money. Schrader’s bill will bring more generics to market faster by increasing opportunities for quicker FDA approval, especially where there are few alternatives.
“Every few months we see headlines about another extreme drug price hike,” said Congressman Schrader. “Some unscrupulous CEO buys the rights to produce a drug that has been on the market for decades, usually where there are no competitors, and they raise the price astronomically overnight. In so many of these stories, the drug has been off patent for years, but there isn’t a generic version on the market. Generic drug manufacturers may want to bring a generic version to the market, but they face a long approval process, steep costs, and a whole lot of uncertainty.
“We know that having generic versions on the market keeps the cost of drugs down for everyone, and prevent those unscrupulous actors from reaping exorbitant profit margins. It’s been proven time and again. That’s exactly why my colleague from across the aisle, Gus Bilirakis, and I worked together on this solution. I’m very pleased that our bill passed without opposition and that we’re able to take this step closer to bringing down costs and making life-saving drugs more affordable.”
The bill passed unanimously through the Congressman’s Energy and Commerce Committee in mid-May. To bring down drug costs, the bill will:
- Require greater communication between the FDA and manufacturers for these competitive generic products before and during the application process which guarantees an accelerated eight month review;
- Create incentive to come to market by guaranteeing the same six months of exclusivity that the vast majority of first generic drugs currently receive;
- Close a loophole and improving program integrity in the Tropical Disease priority review voucher program.
The Congressman first introduced a version of the bill during the 114th Congress in response to the 2015 5,000 percent overnight price hike of a life-saving anti-parasitic drug Daraprim after a hedge fund manager purchased the drug, looking to make a profit.