On Monday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., announced he was backing a bipartisan proposal to control the price of prescription drugs.
Last month, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., brought out the “Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act” which, the Texas Republican’s office insisted, “would curb major drug companies’ anti-competitive use of patents to protect their prescription drugs and prevent generic and biosimilar competition from coming to market” and would “encourage competition and give patients greater access to prescription drugs at a cheaper cost without stifling innovation or infringing on patent rights.”
“Drug companies have taken advantage of the patent system to maintain their monopoly on certain drugs and prevent generics from coming to market,” Cornyn said when he introduced the bill. “These tactics mean Americans are forced to pay more for the life-saving medications they need. This bill puts patients first and reforms the system to encourage the availability of cheaper generics.”
“Using practices that would make the robber barons of the gilded age blush, Big Pharma has crushed competition and stifled access to cheaper generic drugs to squeeze billions out of families, businesses, and the government,” Blumenthal said. “Through common-sense reforms, this bipartisan bill will empower the FTC to fight back against drug companies’ most egregious and monopolistic practices. It represents an important step in reining in Big Pharma’s greed and puts the industry on notice—enough is enough.”
The bill would try to crack down on drug companies product hopping and patent thicketing under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act. Cornyn’s office insisted the bill would “empower the FTC to challenge them as anti-competitive and enable the FTC to bring antitrust suits against companies who attempt to capitalize on their abuse of the system.”
A host of groups, including Patients for Affordable Drugs, Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs, Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, Vizient, Prime Therapeutics and Mylan, are backing the proposal.
Scott threw his support behind the bill on Monday.
“For years, pharmaceutical companies have been abusing the patent system to prevent competition and force American consumers to pay more for life-saving medicine,” Scott said. “That’s wrong. I’m proud to sponsor the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act to force pharmaceutical companies to play fair in a free and competitive market. Washington should have addressed the soaring costs of prescription drugs a long time ago, and I’m fighting every day to make sure we do.”
During his first five months in the Senate, Scott has often focused on prescriptions and health care, including introducing the “Transparent Drug Pricing Act” which, he claimed, “promotes transparency in drug pricing and reduces the cost of prescription drugs for American consumers.”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com