FTC: Kill pay-for-delay, save $35B

Would you like to save $35 billion on healthcare? Trick question, right? Put the words "save" and "billion" and "healthcare" in the same sentence these days, and you'll probably get a call from Congress. So we suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that the Federal Trade Commission is getting some traction in its long-running battle against those so-called "pay-for-delay" deals that forestall copycat drugs.

Yesterday we told you that the Supreme Court had declined to hear a pay-for-delay case. But the Obama Administration has its eye on a similar case coming up for appeal soon, and make no mistake: Officials intend to weigh in with an anti-deal opinion. Meanwhile, the FTC's top dog was speaking yesterday at a Center for American Progress-sponsored event, claiming that American consumers could save $35 billion over 10 years if the deals were banned. Federal programs would save about $12 billion, Chairman Jon Leibowitz said (in prepared remarks).

"[E]liminating these deals is one of the Federal Trade Commission's highest priorities," Leibowitz said. Some in Congress support that idea: As the FTC chairman pointed out, a House bill was passed out of subcommittee recently, and a bipartisan Senate version is poised to be marked up as early as Thursday. We'll have to wait and see whether the agency finally gets its way--or whether the so-far-permissive stance of the courts holds sway.

- read the FTC chairman's speech
- check out the Wall Street Journal Health Blog post