House Democrats Unsuccessful in Attempt To Force Vote on Generic Drug Legislation
House Democrats yesterday unsuccessfully attempted to force consideration of the House version (HR 5272) of the Senate-passed generic drug access bill (S 812), CQ Daily Monitor Midday Update reports. Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) tried to use a procedural move to bring the bill to the floor along with two unrelated, Republican-backed bills. The move, which was separate from House Democrats' drive to collect enough signatures to force a vote on the bill, failed 214-202, four shy of the necessary 218 votes (CQ Daily Monitor Midday Update, 9/19). House Democrats yesterday formally filed a discharge petition for the bill, which would bring it to the floor for a vote if half of the House, or 218 members, signed on. The bill, which passed the Senate in August, has not yet been addressed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over it. The bill would give brand-name drug makers only one 30-month patent extension per product, closing loopholes in the 1984 Hatch-Waxman Act that pharmaceutical companies have used to delay generic drug competition. The bill also would prevent brand-name drug companies from paying generic manufacturers to keep their products off the market and would allow generic drug companies to legally challenge "frivolous patents," including "superficial changes" in a treatment's color or physical design intended only to "stifle competition." According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would save $60 billion over the next 10 years (California Healthline, 9/19). A spokesperson for Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said yesterday's procedural move was an attempt by Democrats to "change the subject on prescription drug prices" in the wake of the Senate's failure in July to pass a Medicare drug benefit to compete with the Housed-passed, Republican-backed Medicare bill (HR 4954) (CQ Daily Monitor Midday Update, 9/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.