Tester, Daines back bill forcing Big Pharma to give samples to generic drug makers

A bill that would force big pharmaceutical companies to turn their samples over to generic drug makers to entice greater market competition cleared a key U.S. Senate committee last week, earning the praise of Sen. Jon Tester, one of the measure’s cosponsors.

The CREATES Act, first introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, would increase market competition and lower prices by simplifying the timely introduction of lower-cost generic drugs.

“It’s high time we get folks the medicine they need without charging them an arm and a leg in the process,” Tester said in a statement after the measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Health care costs are too high and this bill will make life saving prescriptions more affordable.”

Both Tester and Sen. Steve Daines are listed as cosponsors of the bill.

“Keeping the market competitive will increase Montanans’ access to safe, affordable drugs,” said Daines.

According to testimony provided by the FDA, some drug manufacturers have hedged at selling samples of a particular product to generic produces, causing what the bill says are “barriers and delays in getting generic products on the market.”

The FDA has reported receiving a large number of inquiries from generic developers who have been unable to obtain samples of the products needed to both test and move a generic drug to approval.

Tester agreed that big pharmaceutical companies are blocking the development of generic versions of their brand name drugs so they can raise prices without competition. The CREATES Act would bring those cheaper alternative drugs to the market, giving consumers more choices.

“In my listening sessions with Montanans, the number one thing I’ve heard is that life-saving drugs are too expensive,” Tester said. “The CREATES Act will pave the way for folks to get their hands on affordable, generic versions of brand name drugs.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would result in a $3.8 billion net decrease in the federal deficit. Savings to consumers and private insurers likely would be far greater, according to Leahy.

“This bill is a sensible and meaningful step toward lowering the cost of prescription drugs by reigning in the predatory practices of some massive drug companies,” Leahy said in a statement. “The bipartisan CREATES Act is a free market solution that respects intellectual property rights and encourages greater competition that will inevitably lower the price of prescription medications for the American patient.”