Leahy’s Bill To Cut Billions Of Dollars In Prescription Drug Costs Goes To President’s Desk

. . . Caps Three-Year Drive To Methodically Build Bipartisan Support

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, Dec. 19, 2019) – The Senate Thursday passed legislation authored and sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that will bring down prescription drug costs by removing obstacles to lower-cost generic medicines.  Leahy said President Trump will sign it into law by this weekend.

The Creating and Restoring Equal Access To Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act is designed to deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives from entering the marketplace.  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will result in a $3.7 billion net decrease in the federal deficit over 10 years.  Savings to consumers and private insurers are expected to be far greater – many billions of dollars more.

Leahy said:  “It’s taken years of work to get this across the finish line, and the savings it will mean for Vermonters and consumers across the country are well worth it.  High prescription drug costs are a pocketbook issue in millions of households.  These reforms are an obvious way to lighten that burden, saving consumers billions of dollars, and federal agencies billions more.  Vermonters across our state have told me that soaring drug costs can make them have to choose between the medicines they need, or putting food on their families’ tables.  That’s heartbreaking, that’s appalling, and that’s unnecessary.”

Leahy first introduced the bill in 2016 and since then has methodically built a bipartisan coalition of support for it.  He enlisted Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as his chief Republican cosponsor, and year by year, the Leahy bill has had even numbers of Democratic and Republican cosponsors.  “The CREATES Act is an example of what can be accomplished when Congress works in a bipartisan way to get important things done,” he said.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) is a cosponsor of the House counterpart bill, which was introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

Leahy said that critical specialty medicines, such as biologics, which treat only a small number of patients, are nonetheless approaching half of all spending on prescription drugs.  A few predatory name-brand drug makers have used anticompetitive strategies to delay entry of lower-cost generic drugs, and to prolong monopolies on key medicines and lifesaving drugs.  “When they use unfair practices to keep drug prices artificially high, patients suffer,” he said.

AARP and AARP of Vermont support the Leahy bill, which also has strong support from consumer and medical groups across the political spectrum.  A coalition letter in support of the CREATES Act can be found here and a list of supporters here.

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