Higgins Announces Approval of Bill Package Addressing Prescription Drug Costs
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the House of Representatives passed H.R. 987, The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, by a vote of 234-183. The legislation combines seven bills that take action to lower the costs of prescription drugs as well as promote competition from generic alternatives. The omnibus package also includes provisions to stabilize insurance markets and rescind an October rule allowing for the expansion of “junk plans” that do not cover preexisting conditions or provide essential benefits.
The legislation includes:
- H.R. 938, The BLOCKING Act: Currently, the first generic version of a drug approved by FDA is granted 180 days of market exclusivity. However, some generic drug companies then purposefully fail to put the approved product on the market, blocking other generics from submitting applications to the FDA in a practice called “parking.” This bill allows generics to get to market earlier by changing the rules on “parking.”
- H.R. 1499, Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs of 2019: At present, brand-name drug manufacturers can enter into a “pay-for-delay” agreement in which the brand-name company pays the generic company to delay bringing a generic equivalent to market, which prevents competition and hurts consumers. This bill bans such “pay-for-delay” agreements.
- H.R. 965, The CREATES Act: Currently, certain brand-name companies use tactics to withhold or delay providing the brand drug samples to generic companies needed to develop generic products. This bill establishes a process by which generic manufacturers can overcome these delaying tactics and are able to obtain sufficient quantities of the brand drug samples.
- H.R. 1385, The SAVE Act: This bipartisan bill appropriates $200 million to assist interested states in creating their own state-based insurance marketplaces. State-based marketplaces are largely outperforming the federal marketplace, achieving lower premiums and enrolling more consumers. This bill empowers states to implement new approaches to developing state-based marketplaces that lower costs and expand coverage for American families.
- H.R. 1386, The ENROLL Act and H.R. 987, MORE Health Education Act: These bills restore critical funding for marketplace consumer outreach and enrollment education activities, as well as for the Navigator program, both of which the Trump administration has slashed. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that restoring this funding will result in about 500,000 additional enrollees over the next 10 years.
- H.R. 1010, Rescinding Trump Administration’s Final Rule Promoting Junk Insurance Plans: This bill reinforces protections for people with pre-existing conditions by revoking the Trump administration’s rule that promotes the sale of junk plans, which are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and are not required to cover essential benefits.
Congressman Higgins took to the floor of the House to call out practices by drug makers that distort the market, including the manipulation of intellectual property rights to extend patents and maximize profit over health outcomes.
To access video go to: https://youtu.be/0ftf2vt292Q
In the speech, Higgins said: “Last week 44 attorneys general filed a lawsuit in federal court against 20 generic makers, alleging market manipulation and price fixing…it is alleged that one company sets the price of a drug and the others follow without the cost cutting influence of competition. All of this resulted in billions of dollars in harm to patients, and the US economy.”
Due to the continued rise in prescription drug costs, 24% of Americans said that they had not filled a prescription in the past year. Allowing generics to be brought to market sooner will lower costs for consumers by an estimated 80% over five years on average.
The legislation was supported by more than 25 groups representing millions of patients and consumers, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Susan G. Komen, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, National Health Council, United Way Worldwide, National Patient Advocate Foundation, and many more.