WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa joined Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Mike Lee of Utah and Dick Durbin of Illinois in reintroducing legislation to increase competition in the pharmaceutical industry and lower prices for consumers.
The bipartisan Short on Competition Act would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to grant expedited reviews and inspections, and temporary importation when there is, or is likely to be, a drug shortage or when there are fewer than five competitors in a market for drugs that have been approved for at least 10 years. The Short on Competition Act could address instances of drug companies dramatically increasing prices for older drugs, such as Turing’s Daraprim 5,000 percent price increase and Mylan’s EpiPen nearly 500 percent price increase.
"As we’ve seen time and again, when there’s only one option on the market consumers can face exorbitant prices. Better competition in the prescription drug industry leads to better outcomes for patients' pocketbooks and improved access to safe medications,” Grassley said. “Getting more options on the market, as this bill will do, can give consumers an option other than a single high-priced drug."
“If drug companies know new competitors can quickly enter the market, maybe they’ll think twice before raising prices in the first place. More competition in the marketplace will lead to more affordable prescription drugs for American consumers,” Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan legislation will help lower drug prices by prioritizing approvals and safely allow temporary drug importation of products to address markets that lack competition.”
“The best way to lower prices and increase quality for any good, even health care, is competition,” Lee said. “This bill is not a comprehensive solution for out of control drug prices, but it is a good first step that will demonstrate how lower government regulation and increased competition can help American patients.”
“Too often, we have seen prices skyrocket for life or death medication--even when these drugs have been around for decades – because of abusive Pharma monopolies,” Durbin said. “I’m joining my colleagues on this bill because it’s about time Big Pharma was held accountable for its price gouging. There is a bipartisan consensus in Congress to get something done when it comes to lowering prescription drug prices, and I hope this bill is part of that solution.”
To ensure safety, temporary importation can only be from certain countries with similar safety and efficacy standards as the U.S. The bill also includes a provision that allows the Secretary to deny temporary importation if there are concerns that the drug is not safe or effective.