Rep. McAdams Backs Legislation to Speed Generic Medications to Market

December 4, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – While some continue to merely talk about the need to rein in prescription drug prices, Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, has actually taken action on bipartisan legislation to help lower the cost of often life-changing medications.

Along with fellow members of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, McAdams supported and got the House to pass the CREATES Act and BLOCKING Act, bills aimed at helping generic drug makers bring their products to market more quickly while also lifting barriers to competition.

“Generic drugs are as effective as brand-name equivalents but often cost much less and that means substantial savings for patients,” McAdams told The Well News.

H.R. 965, the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act of 2019, prohibits pharmaceutical and biologic companies from engaging in anti-competitive conduct that blocks lower-cost generic drugs from entering the market.

Meanwhile, H.R. 938, the Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act of 2019, rewards 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 BLOCKING Act would start the 180-day clock once a second generic drug files their patent.

The Blue Dog Coalition last month called on Congress to take up these and other prescription drug pricing bills that they believe, if considered individually, could pass a Democratic-led House and a Republican-led Senate.

Among the other bills endorsed by the group is one that 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, and others that would mandate greater transparency for patients, doctors, employers, and other buyers, in regard to drug pricing and the factors that influence what they pay at the pharmacy counter.

“Congress must deliver results on lowering the cost of life saving drugs for American families,” Rep. McAdams said. “Every month we delay means more hardship and health problems for seniors covered under Medicare Part D. It’s wrong that they are not able to fill their prescriptions or take them as prescribed, because they aren’t affordable.”

McAdams said health care on one of the most frequent topics that his constituents ask him about during town halls back in his district.

“Utahns expect us to rise above partisan politics and not let that stop us from getting this important work done,” he said.  “The House has taken up a number of bipartisan proposals aimed at making the drug market more competitive and drugs more affordable, which we absolutely can and must get into law this Congress.

“But it’s clear that we also need to fix the system more broadly.,” McAdams continued. “We have bipartisan support between the House, Senate, and Administration to take big steps like slowing the rapid rise of drug prices.  Capping seniors’ out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part D plans is one of my top priorities – we can’t let seniors living on fixed incomes skip their insulin, heart medications, or cancer treatments because drug prices rise exponentially, and they’re left on the hook for more and more.” 

The representative noted that Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah,  has taken the lead on getting the CREATES Act through the Senate and said he believes the bill could actually make it to the president’s desk.

“Both sides need to stop playing politics with drug prices,” McAdams said. “I came to Congress as an independent voice for my district, not beholden to any particular party or ideology … [and] it is impractical to think that either Democrats or Republicans must demand ‘their way or the highway.’” 

“Frankly, with all the debate about divisive issues, we should take an opportunity to solve high drug prices, an issue that both parties agree on and have some common ground on the solutions,” he said.  “I continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to prove we can deliver results and fix a broken Congress. 

“Americans in Democratic and Republican districts across the country can’t wait for Congressional leaders to retreat to their partisan corners when instead we can make progress by working together,” McAdams said.

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