House Dems lobby to ban 'pay-for-delay'

Remember the Federal Trade Commission's vow to curb "pay-for-delay" deals? Well, it appears that the agency has won some more friends in Congress. A group of Congressional reps and the FTC chief are agitating for approval of a provision in the healthcare reform package that would block generic-delaying settlements. And they are holding a press conference today to announce an FTC staff analysis showing that pay-for-delay deals between brand and generic drug companies are costing American consumers billions a year.

According to the New York Times, the House reps plan to ask Congress to include that measure in the final version of healthcare reform. The House bill already includes one, but the Senate version doesn't. The group already has written Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to plea for the ban.

Supporting that measure is an impressive number in the Congressional Budget Office's scoring of healthcare legislation: $1.8 billion. That's how much the CBO figures the government could save over the next 10 years if generics got to market more quickly than they do now. The FTC has estimated that generic-delaying patent settlements cost American consumers $3.5 billion a year, the NYT reports.

The so-called pay-for-delay deal is coming under fire on both sides of the Atlantic. European antitrust officials are investigating certain patent settlements, citing worries that branded drugmakers are violating antitrust rules by holding off generic competition.

- read the NYT piece