Senate Committee Passes Collins-backed Legislation to Counter Rising Prescription Drug Prices

Washington, D.C. - The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation, cosponsored by U.S. Senator Susan Collins, to address the rising costs of prescription drugs.  The Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act would deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking lower-cost generic alternatives from entering the marketplace. 

 

“Prescription drugs are vital to the health and well-being of Americans, particularly our nation’s seniors – 90 percent of whom take at least one prescription drug in any given month,” said Senator Collins.  “As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, I have made addressing rising drug prices one of our top priorities.  The CREATES Act would increase competition, reduce prices, and help ensure that prescription drugs are affordable for all Americans.”

 

Specifically, the bill would make it easier for potential generic manufacturers to obtain necessary samples of brand products by providing a legal cause of action against brand-name pharmaceutical companies that refuse to sell the samples on commercially reasonable, market-based terms. The bill would also prevent brand-name companies from using FDA-required safety systems to block generic competitors by allowing potential generic drug manufacturers to establish their own programs or forcing the branded company to share its program if a comparable program cannot be established.

 

Senator Collins, who is also a member of the Senate Health Committee, has championed bipartisan efforts in Congress to increase the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs.  Most recently, she introduced two bills to remove barriers that prevent patients from paying the lowest possible price for prescription drugs.  The Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act and the Know the Lowest Price Act would prohibit health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers from using “pharmacy gag clauses” – an egregious practice that some companies use to hide the lowest prescription drug prices from patients at the pharmacy. This causes many consumers to needlessly overpay for their prescription.

 

Earlier this year, Senator Collins chaired congressional hearings to examine the increasing costs of drugs used to treat common diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Additionally, in 2015, Senators Collins and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) launched the Senate’s only bipartisan investigation into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to egregious price spikes for certain generic, off-patent drugs.  They released a report on their investigation in 2016.  Following their investigation, Senators Collins and McCaskill authored a bill to improve generic competition and lower the cost of prescription drugs that was signed into law as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act.