Last week, the drug business got a reprieve on a proposed "pay-for-delay" ban when the Senate tossed the measure from a war-funding bill. But that reprieve was only temporary. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee gave the OK to similar restrictions on patent settlements between branded and generic drugmakers.
The new rules are attached to a spending bill that requires full Senate approval. And the committee vote was close: As the Wall Street Journal reports, a motion to strike that provision from the spending bill failed on a tie vote of 15-15.
So, there's no guarantee it will survive the legislative process. But even if this measure fails, another is likely to crop up. After all, the House already introduced its version of the ban--the one the Senate quashed. And the provision's sponsor, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), doesn't tend to avoid fights with Big Pharma.
"The cost of brand-name drugs rose nearly ten percent last year. In contrast, the cost of generic drugs fell by nearly ten percent. At this time of spiraling health care costs, we cannot turn a blind eye to these anticompetitive backroom deals that deny consumers access to affordable generic drugs," Kohl says in a statement issued by his office in the wake of the vote.