Washington, D.C. — Provisions authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to improve generic competition and lower the cost of prescription drugs cleared the Senate yesterday as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act. The provisions, which were unanimously adopted as an amendment during the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s consideration of the legislation in May, will help foster a competitive marketplace to improve the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs for patients. The House passed bipartisan legislation mirroring Senators Collins and McCaskill’s plan last month, and the bill will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“Drug companies should not be able to increase their prices dramatically by thousands of percent overnight without any justification or development of the drug to improve its effectiveness, for example,” said Senator Collins in her remarks from the Senate floor. “Our legislation will help to foster a much healthier and more competitive marketplace as the best defense against such exploitation. I am pleased that our bipartisan plan will increase generic competition, which is so important to American families and particularly our seniors, who take a disproportionate number of the prescription drugs that are prescribed in this country.”
“Prescription drugs aren’t a luxury item—for many, they’re lifesavers, and Missouri families shouldn’t have to choose between their prescriptions and their groceries,” Senator McCaskill said. “We’ve got to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, and a fundamental way to do that is through generic competition. That’s why this plan by Senator Collins and me will make a difference—and why I’m thrilled it’s headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”
In December 2015, Senators Collins and McCaskill, the Chairman and former Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, launched the first ever bipartisan investigation into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to egregious price spikes for certain drugs. Their investigation included a series of hearings that strived to understand why companies can make these large price increases and to identify which policies should be considered to counter these disturbing practices. In December 2016, Senators Collins and McCaskill released a report on drug pricing that detailed the Committee’s findings.
Senators Collins and McCaskill’s bipartisan plan will take a number of steps to foster a competitive marketplace to help keep drug prices down and improve access to affordable prescription drugs for Americans. These measures will enhance regulatory certainty for generic drug companies, prevent shortages, increase competition to lower prices and avoid monopolies, and deter practices that can lead to unjustifiable exorbitant price hikes.