ICYMI: House Energy and Commerce Committee Greenlights Blue Dog Endorsed Drug Pricing Legislation
WASHINGTON—Yesterday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce voted unanimously to pass Blue Dog Coalition-endorsed legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs and increase transparency in the drug pricing system. The endorsed legislation is the bipartisan Payment Commission Act and the bipartisan Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act. Both bills are anticipated to go to the House floor for a vote and receive bipartisan support.
The Payment Commission Act provides Congress’ independent advisory commissions, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), access to certain drug pricing data to help those commissions make recommendations to Congress on how to improve the Medicare and Medicaid programs and lower prescription drug prices. This legislation will increase transparency and help provide recommendations to Congress that are necessary to create policy reforms that help patients. The Payment Commission Act was introduced by Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy, Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), along with Representatives Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), Tom Rice (R-SC). and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).
The Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act keeps drug prices down by increasing competition in the generic drug market. The legislation was introduced by Blue Dog Co-Chair, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Congressman Earl L. "Buddy" Carter (R-GA).
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. The purpose of this award is to reward manufacturers for challenging weak patents and bringing new low-cost drugs to the market. The 180 days begins once the manufacturer starts marketing the drug, but even before the manufacturer begins marketing, all other generic competitors are blocked from coming to market. This allows some manufacturers to “park” the exclusivity before receiving final approval, blocking competition for more than the 180 days intended by the law. In these cases, no other generics can come to the market until the first manufacturer receives final approval, begins marketing the drug, and the subsequent 180 days have passed.
Rep. Schrader’s BLOCKING Act would stop first generic drug “parking.” Under the BLOCKING Act, if a second generic drug application is blocked from receiving approval solely due to a first generic drug manufacturer parking their exclusivity at the tentative approval stage, the 180 days immediately begins to run, preventing limitless delays for other generics to come to the market. This legislation mirrors a proposal to “speed development of more affordable generics to spur competition” that was included in the administration’s FY2019 budget proposal.
“In this era of divided government, the only way we can fully address the issues impacting the American people is to find a bipartisan solution that can be implemented into law,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy. “The rising cost of prescription drugs is forcing hardworking families to choose between life-saving medication and other necessities. We’re glad to see that Congress is taking concrete action to bring those prices down and increase transparency surrounding drug pricing. We look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to pass this legislation in the House, and we hope our colleagues in the Senate do the same to deliver results for the American people.”