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Blue Dogs Call on Congress to Take Up Additional Bipartisan Drug Pricing Legislation

October 8, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON—As the House continues its consideration of H.R. 3, Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019, the Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed and called on Congress to take up a series of additional prescription drug pricing bills that, if taken up individually, could pass a Democratic-led House and a Republican-led Senate. 

Building on its earlier endorsement of the bipartisan Payment Commission Act and the Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act, the additional set of legislation endorsed by the Blue Dogs, a coalition of fiscally-responsible Democrats, is bipartisan and focused on increasing competition in the generic drug market and increasing transparency in the drug pricing system.

Blue Dog Co-Chair Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., said he’s long believed that there is no single silver bullet that will end the drug pricing crisis.

 “We do know, however, that alongside increasing transparency on the drug pricing system, expanding drug competition places a check on manufacturers and keeps costs down,” Schrader said. “While we will continue to do important work on drug pricing with H.R. 3, Congress can and should take up these solutions and send them over to the Senate as stand-alone bills that can deliver real relief to people today.”

 “In this time of hyper-partisanship, the only way we can fully address real issues impacting the American people is to identify commonsense, bipartisan solutions that can be implemented into law,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., Blue Dog co-chair for policy. 

“The rising cost of prescription drugs often forces hardworking families to choose between life-saving medications and putting food on the table. This is unacceptable. Congress must take an all-hands-on-deck approach in addressing this problem by taking up all legislation with a real potential to be implemented today,” O’Halleran said.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., a Blue Dog Coalition member and sponsor of the Blue Dog-endorsed Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act, said “across Central Virginia, I have heard heart-wrenching stories about the financial distress caused by high prescription drug costs. 

“As prices increase, people struggle not only to purchase the medications they need, but also to understand why prices continue to rise. I was proud to introduce a commonsense bill that would shed light on a discount and rebate system that has contributed to rising drug costs across the country,” she said. 

“By increasing transparency within the murky world of prescription drug negotiations, our bipartisan legislation would allow patients, physicians, and pharmacists to better understand the impacts of decisions made by pharmacy benefits managers,” Spanberger added.

The Blue Dogs have endorsed and are calling on Congress to take up the following bipartisan bills individually as H.R. 3 continues to make its way through the committee process:

  • H.R. 965, the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act of 2019: This legislation would prohibit pharmaceutical and biologic companies from engaging in anti-competitive conduct that blocks lower-cost generic drugs from entering the market.
  • H.R. 1499, the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2019: This bill would prohibit the practice of “pay-for-delay,” in which brand name drug companies compensate generics to delay the entry of generic drugs into the market. This practice leads to decreased competition and increased drug prices for Americans.
  • H.R. 2115, the Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act: This legislation would require Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to report their aggregate rebates, discounts, and other price concessions for prescription drugs to a public website. This market transparency would help patients, doctors, employers, and other buyers better understand and compare the discounts PBMs receive so that there can be a full understanding of the impact and cost of PBMs’ involvement in prescription drug prices.
  • H.R. 1520, the Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019: This legislation would codify publication of the patents of approved biological products in the Purple Book in a similar format and with similar requirements to the Orange Book, specify that the Purple Book should be published electronically on FDA’s website and updated routinely, and direct FDA to consider the types of patents that should be listed in the Purple Book.
  • H.R. 1503, the Orange Book Transparency Act of 2019: This legislation would ensure that the Orange Book is accurate and up-to-date, by requiring manufacturers to share complete and timely information with FDA, as well as ensuring that patents listed in the Orange Book are relevant to the approved drug product. Patents found to be invalid through a court decision or a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board would be required to be removed promptly.
  • **H.R. 1781, the Payment Commission Data Act of 2019: This legislation would provide the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) with access to drug pricing and rebate data for these independent, non-partisan commissions to help Congress better understand the true costs of prescription drugs to consumers and taxpayers.

• **H.R. 938, the Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act of 2019: The purpose of this legislation is to reward manufacturers for challenging weak patents and bringing new generic drugs to the market by challenging generic drugs from parking patents for an extended period of time. Current law awards 180 days of exclusivity on the market to a drug manufacturer when they are the first to file a generic drug application with the FDA for a drug for which there is no generic. This 180-day clock starts when the generic only starts to market their drug. This legislation would start the 180-day clock once a second generic drug files their patent.

** The Blue Dog Coalition endorsed the BLOCKING Act and Payment Commission Data Act of 2019 earlier this year.

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