Reforms would save taxpayers $3.7B by removing obstacles to lower-cost prescription drugs

WASHINGTON DC (December 16, 2019) — Finance Committee Chairman Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Monday hailed the inclusion of their legislation to combat anticompetitive practices used by some brand-name pharmaceutical and biologic companies to block entry of lower-cost generic drugs in the domestic appropriations package filed today in the House.

The Creating and Restoring Equal Access To Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act would deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives from entering the marketplace. The bill is sponsored by Sen Leahy and cosponsored by Sen Grassley who, like Sen Leahy, is a former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Other leading cosponsors are Sens Mike Lee (R-UT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), leaders of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights. A companion House bill was introduced by Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, joined by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA), and Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and David McKinley (R-WV).

“Patients are increasingly facing skyrocketing medication costs, and anti-competitive practices by some brand-name pharmaceutical companies are partially to blame. These companies block access to more affordable generic alternatives, hurting consumers, and costing tax-payers billions. The bipartisan CREATES Act puts a stop to this abuse, and encourages greater competition and consumer choice, which lowers prices, while respecting intellectual property of drug-makers. This bill saves tax-payers an estimated $3.7 billion on top of reducing sticker-prices at the pharmacy counter. Passing the CREATES Act is an important step in a broader bipartisan effort to improve access to affordable medications through market-oriented reforms,” Sen Grassley said.

“I hear from Vermonters every day that rising prescription drug prices are increasingly straining their tight budgets. For too long, a few predatory name-brand drug companies have used anticompetitive strategies to delay entry of lower-cost generic drugs and to prolong monopolies on key medicines and lifesaving drugs. When these companies use unfair practices to keep drug-prices artificially high, patients suffer. Patients, families, and government programs shouldn’t have to cope with increased drug-costs to pad name-brand companies’ bottom lines. Our bipartisan bill is precisely targeted to stop these abuses, and I’m hopeful that it will be signed into law by the end of this week,” Sen Leahy said.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill would result in a $3.7 billion net decrease in the federal deficit over 10 years. Savings to consumers and private insurers likely would be far greater — many billions of dollars more.

The Leahy-Grassley CREATES Act passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in June of 2018 under Sen Grassley’s leadership. The legislation mirrors the proposal reported by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) this year, and is strongly supported by a coalition of groups as diverse as AARP, American College of Physicians, FreedomWorks, Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs, and many more. A coalition letter in support of the CREATES Act can be found here and a list of supporters here.

In addition to Sens Leahy, Grassley, Klobuchar, and Lee, the bill is cosponsored by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Feinstein (D-CA) and Sens Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Braun (R-IN), Brown (D-OH), Capito (R-WV), Collins (R-ME), Cotton (R-AR), Cramer (R-ND), Cruz (R-TX), Daines (R-MT), Durbin (D-IL), Ernst (R-IA), Fischer (R-NE), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hassan (D-NH), Hoeven (R-ND), Kennedy (R-LA), King (I-ME), Markey (D-MA), McSally (R-AZ), Menendez (D-NJ), Murkowski (R-AK), Paul (R-KY), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Rounds (R-SD), Shaheen (D-NH), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Van Hollen (D-MD), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Young (R-IN).

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