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Senate Health Committee approves generic drug bill

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Senate Health Committee approves generic drug bill
Consumers Union praises bill to help bring generics to marketplace

WASHINGTON, DC – Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, today praised the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for approving a bill designed to make it easier for consumers to find generic versions of brand-name prescription drugs.
The committee voted 16-5 for a bill (S. 812) sponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) after it modified the bill through an amendment offered by Sens. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Janell Mayo Duncan, legislative counsel for Consumers Union, said the compromises contained in the final bill were generally reasonable, and urged Senators to continue to move the bill forward.
“The bill has finally cleared a critical hurdle two years after it was first introduced in Congress,” said Duncan. “Consumers shouldn’t have to wait longer for it to be signed into law.”
Duncan said Consumers Union was particularly supportive of a provision that would give generic drug firms a new right of action to challenge frivolous patents listed by brand-name drug companies in FDA’s “Orange Book.”
“As opponents of the bill look for ways to scale it back, we firmly believe that the cause-of-action provision must be preserved,” Duncan said. “It is a critical part of reforming the system and putting a stop to the delays that brand-name companies use to keep generics off the shelves.
“With the clock ticking down and other priorities stacking up, Congress will have to work hard and move fast to pass the bill before adjournment. But considering the growing burden of paying for prescription drugs, Congress must find the time and the will to do it,” Duncan concluded.
For more information contact: David Butler – (202) 462-6262