WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement was issued by Merith Basey, executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, in response to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s vote to advance a package of bipartisan bills. This legislation would lower drug prices by promoting transparency, competition, and accountability and curbing anticompetitive behavior committed by pharmaceutical corporations and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs):
“On behalf of patients across the U.S., we applaud Chairman Sanders, Ranking Member Cassidy, and the members of the Senate HELP Committee for passing bipartisan legislation to increase competition, incentivize innovation, require transparency, and crack down on opaque practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). This package of bills represents a significant step towards restoring accountability to the U.S. drug price system so that it prioritizes patients, rather than the bottom line of the pharma and PBM industries.
“We call on Senate Majority Leader Schumer to bring these bills to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. It’s high time we restore balance to our rigged drug price system – patients can’t wait!”
- A recording of this morning’s Senate HELP Committee markup can be watched here.
- The legislative package includes the following pieces of drug pricing legislation:
- The Ensuring Timely Access to Generics Act of 2023 (S. 1067), led by Senators Shaheen (D-NH), Collins (R-ME), Bennet (D-CO), Rubio (R-FL), Baldwin (D-WI), and Braun (R-IN) would increase competition for generic drugs by cracking down on abuse of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) citizen petition process. P4ADNow has been advocating for reforms to the citizen petition process since 2018.
- The Retaining Access and Restoring Exclusivity (RARE) Act (S. 1214), introduced by Senators Baldwin (D-WI) and Braun (R-IN), would close a loophole in the FDA’s orphan drug approval process and restore incentives to develop drugs for rare diseases. The RARE Act is endorsed by P4ADNow.
- The Increasing Transparency in Generic Drug Applications Act (S. 775), led by Senators Hassan (D-NH) and Paul (R-KY) will speed more affordable generic drugs to market by giving the FDA the authority to provide specific information on inactive ingredients and drug concentration levels to generic applicants working to come to market. S. 775 is endorsed by P4ADNow.
- The Fair Accountability and Innovative Research (FAIR) Drug Pricing Act (S. 935), led by Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Braun (R-IN), and Smith (D-MN) requires drug companies to provide notice and justification reports on certain prescription drug price increases. P4ADNow has endorsed the FAIR Act in three consecutive congresses.
- The Pharmacy Benefit Manager Reform Act (S. 1339), led by Chairman Sanders (I-VT) and Ranking Member Cassidy (R-LA), bans spread pricing by Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), requires that rebates be passed through to insurance companies, and increases transparency into the opaque practices of PBMs.
- The Expanding Access to Low-Cost Generics Act of 2023 (S. 1114), led by Senators Smith (D-MN) and Braun (R-IN), restores incentives to bring generic products to market in a timely manner by addressing anticompetitive “parking” behavior.
- An amendment led by Senators Braun (R-IN) and Marshall (R-KS), that would require the Department of Labor to conduct a study on what the impact would be if PBMs had fiduciary duties to the health plans and employers they serve.
- Last week, more than 40 groups sent a letter to every member of the Senate to urge passage of legislation to lower drug prices by strengthening the U.S. patent and regulatory systems, spurring competition, and addressing opaque practices of PBMs to ensure they are serving patients and consumers first.
- This bipartisan package can now receive votes on the Senate floor. Today’s markup follows the passage of five bipartisan bills out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in February.