PhRMA Joins Celebrities To Lobby Against House Passage of Generic Drug Bill
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America yesterday joined Spotlight Health, a company that uses celebrities to advocate for various health issues, in urging members of the House not to consider generic drug legislation (HR 5272) passed by the Senate earlier this year, CongressDaily/AM reports (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 10/2). The Senate-passed version of the bill (S 812) 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, 9/20).
Yesterday, celebrities, including talk show hosts Montel Williams and Leeza Gibbons, asked House Republicans not to sign a Democrat-led petition to force a vote on the generics bill. "We want to encourage lawmakers to just pause for a moment," Gibbons said, adding, "The current system that's in place is working. New drugs, innovative therapies are happening." The celebrity visits, combined with PhRMA's "huge advertising campaign" opposing the legislation, "appea[r] to be ... successful," the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. None of the Republican sponsors of the House bill have signed the petition, in part because they oppose bringing the measure to the floor before House committees have had a chance to review it, and Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) has asked to remove his name from the petition. As of yesterday, Democrats had 141 signatures; they need 218 signatures to force a vote (AP/Baltimore Sun, 10/2).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.