Congress is Making Quiet Progress on Drug Costs

The Commonwealth Fund published a To the Point blog post detailing the incremental steps that Congress has taken on policies that would lower drug costs for patients. While the Trump Administration has sought to implement its blueprint to lower prescription drug costs, Congress has already made quiet progress and advanced legislation that would benefit consumers. Today, two bills, S. 2554 and S. 2533 that would ban gag clauses that block pharmacists from disclosing to customers if they would save money by not using their insurance benefits, cleared the House. The bills were not only key to increasing price transparency and lowering drug costs for consumers, but also contained a key provision that would aid in increasing competition.

Brand-name manufacturers will often use patent-settlement agreements to extend their monopoly and keep drug prices high by directly or indirectly compensating generic manufacturers to delay their product from coming to market, often known as “pay for delay.” Pay for delay abuses cost tax payers billions of dollars annually and delay cheaper medicines from coming onto market. Included in S. 2554 is a lesser known provision that would require manufacturers of biologics and biosimilars to report patent-settlement agreements to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an important step in preventing abuse and combatting high drug prices. This provision will give the FTC oversight to monitor anticompetitive behaviors and aid in protecting consumers. With the passage of S.2554 and the FTC reporting provision, Congress has taken necessary steps to encourage a robust biosimilar market.

To learn more about the impact of FTC review on drug pricing, check out our blog here.