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Senate passes bipartisan bill to help speed lower-cost generic drugs to consumers

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Senate passes bipartisan bill to help speed lower-cost generic drugs to consumers
Consumers stand to save billions of dollars on prescription medicine

WASHINGTON, DC – Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, today commended the U.S. Senate for passing “The Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals (GAAP) Act (S.812),” a bill designed to make it easier for consumers to find generic versions of brand-name prescription drugs.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill by a vote of 78-21.
Consumers Union believes that the legislation is a critical step forward as prices for prescription drugs increase at a record-setting pace. Between 1999 and 2000 alone, prescription drug spending increased by 17.3% — the sixth consecutive year of double-digit increases. The GAAP Act would speed lower-cost generic drugs to consumers by ending many of the anticompetitive tactics engaged in by some brand name and generic drug companies that delay consumer access to less expensive generic drugs.
This legislation could result in billions of dollars in savings by consumers. U.S. Government sources have confirmed the need for the legislation and its potential benefit to consumers. A recent Congressional Office (CBO) report concluded that consumer savings under the legislation could reach $60 billion over the next 10 years. A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report released Tuesday specifically highlighted the 30-month stay and the 180-day marketing exclusivity period as serious barriers to competition. The FTC called on Congress to limit brand name companies to one 30-month stay of approval of a generic drug and to address the issues of abuse of the 180-day grant of marketing exclusivity. The GAAP Act addresses these practices and other unscrupulous tactics used to delay the entry of lower-priced generic drugs.
While we are very disappointed that the Senate rejected the Graham-Smith bill for Medicare drug coverage, Congress still has the opportunity to do something very meaningful for people with huge drug bills. We call upon the House of Representatives to pass similar generic-drug legislation when it returns from recess in September. Time is running short for Congress to complete its work and send a final bill to the President before adjourning in the fall. Considering the extraordinary financial burden that prescription drugs place on millions of consumers, Congress must find the time and the will to finish the job.
For more information contact: Janell Mayo Duncan – (202) 462-6262