Drug lobby stalls pro-generics bill

Getting generic drugs to market faster? That's heresy to brand-name Pharma. And it's simple economics: The longer a branded drug can be sold without competition from lower-cost generics, the more money a drug company makes. It's no wonder, then, that pharma companies are lobbying so hard to stop legislation aimed at getting generics into patients' hands more quickly. A Senate bill that would ban "reverse payments"--when a brand-name company pays a generics maker to delay launching a copycat--has stalled, the Associated Press says, because of Big Pharma arm-twisting.

Oddly enough, it's the Federal Trade Commission that asked Congress to act on reverse payments. The idea is that settlements between branded drug companies and generics firms actually restrict competition and push up prices. One example is the AstraZeneca-Barr Pharmaceuticals deal on tamoxifen.

The drug industry--brand name and generics companies alike--spent some $38 million on lobbying over the 12 months ended June 30. Half of that came from PhRMA, which represents brand-name companies. Not all of those funds were devoted to the reverse payment issue, of course. Still, it's quite a chunk of change.

- read this AP article for more

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