Murray Announces Senate Committee Agreement on Generic Drugs

Jun 11 2003

Calls bill a “Big Win” for Consumers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee today reached an agreement on legislation that will reduce unnecessary delays in bringing low-cost, generic drugs to the market, while continuing to encourage pharmaceutical innovation.

As a member of the HELP Committee, Senator Murray worked closely with the Chairman and Ranking member to develop the fair and balanced bill that protects consumers while allowing for pharmaceutical advancement.

“This bill is a big win for consumers and for continued biomedical innovation,” Senator Murray said. “Patients will now be able to get lower cost life-saving drugs more quickly, and manufacturers will retain the incentive to improve their products.”

The HELP Committee legislation closes a legal loophole in the 1984 Hatch/Waxman legislation that currently allows brand-name drug makers to delay market entry of generic versions of their drugs for 30 months each time the brand-name companies sue for patent infringement.

Under today’s agreement, brand-name companies can only delay marketing for one 30-month stay. This compromise prevents companies from engaging in frivolous patent disputes that delay the approval of generic alternatives, while still allowing patent extensions for real innovation and medical advancement.

“This legislation provides the right incentives for companies to develop and market new life-improving - and in some cases - life-saving drugs. Today’s agreement encourages innovation and improves competition that will help reduce health care costs for consumers and dramatically improve the quality of life of millions of Americans,” Murray said. “I will continue to work to ensure that all Americans have timely access to affordable prescription drugs.”