Tuesday, May 1, 2001
WASHINGTON, DC – Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, today endorsed the “Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act of 2001,” a bill introduced by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to streamline and improve the federal government’s process for approving generic drugs.
“Generic drug companies face too many unnecessary obstacles when they try to bring their products to market,” said Janell Mayo Duncan, legislative counsel for Consumers Union. “The McCain-Schumer bill would remove some of these obstacles and help boost competition among the drug companies. This bill would be a great help to the millions of consumers paying enormous prices for brand-name prescription drugs.”
Duncan said the bill would curb abuse of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s citizen petition process. “Citizen petitions can be an important way for people to raise concerns about FDA-regulated products,” Duncan said. “But lately the petition process has been abused by brand-name drug companies that want to avoid competition from generics. The McCain-Schumer bill would require anyone that submits a citizen petition to certify that the petition is well grounded in fact, that all relevant information has been included, and that it has not been submitted for an improper purpose.”
Duncan praised the bill for streamlining the patent approval process for generic drugs. “The McCain-Schumer bill takes aim at spurious patent filings that serve no purpose other than keeping generics off the shelves. It eliminates some of delay tactics that have allowed the brand-name companies to hold up the process and deny consumers the chance to buy generic alternatives.”
Duncan noted a recent report by the Healthcare Financing Administration that said spending for prescription drugs is growing faster than any other category of healthcare expenditure. More competition from generic drugs, she said, is one way to take some of the sting out of skyrocketing drug prices.
“Ultimately, consumers need Congress to pass a law that addresses the wider problems of drug pricing,” Duncan said. “But the McCain-Schumer bill is a step in the right direction. Increasing generic drug competition can provide consumers some long- overdue relief.”
For more information contact: Janell Mayo Duncan – 202-462-6262