The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee March 13 held a legislative hearing to examine seven bills aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs and reducing barriers to market competition.
In her opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) outlined that the bills under review fall into three categories: patent listing barriers, drug development and market entry, and market barriers. She noted, “The bills we are considering today will inject competition in the system sooner, move drugs to the market more quickly, and lower costs.”
Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) added, “It is time for Congress to help make prescription drugs more affordable. One way to achieve this goal is to facilitate greater competition from generic and biosimilar manufacturers. I believe reducing barriers to generic drugs and increasing competition in the pharmaceutical market will benefit American families who are struggling to afford their medications.”
Full committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas) both highlighted their commitment to lowering the cost of prescription drugs, but they expressed concern about the process of the hearing and questioned why a representative from the Food and Drug Administration was not invited to participate as a witness. Rep. Walden stated, “A legislative hearing is the only public opportunity to hear from experts on the policies being advanced, and we will not have the agency responsible for implementing such technical policies present.”
The subcommittee reviewed the following bills:
- The Orange Book Transparency Act (H.R. 1503)
- The Purple Book Continuity Act (H.R. 1520)
- The Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act (CREATES Act, H.R. 965)
- The Fair Access for Safe and Timely Generics Act (FAST Generics Act, H.R. 985)
- The Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for new Generics Act (Blocking Act, H.R. 938)
- The Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act (H.R. 1499)
- The Fair and Immediate Release of Generic Drugs Act (FAIR Act, H.R. 1506)
This was the subcommittee’s first hearing on drug prices in the 116th Congress, but leaders from both sides of the aisle mentioned they would continue this work of lowering drug prices.