Green Helps Launch Effort to Make Prescription Drugs More Affordable for All Seniors
September 9, 2002
Washington, DC - Congressman Gene Green added his name to a discharge petition this morning, which would force a vote on legislation that could save consumers as much as $6 billion in annual prescription drug costs. The Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act (HR 1862) would close loopholes in a federal law that drug companies use to prevent competition by keeping lower-cost generic drugs off the market.
Consumers in Houston and throughout Texas would save millions of dollars every year, said Green. We have the opportunity to do something about an issue that is hurting too many Americans - the high cost of prescription drugs. This bill will help less expensive drugs be sold, creating competition with the drug industry, and in turn, reducing the price of brand name drugs. This will ease the burden on everyday people who are currently forced to rely on very expensive drugs.
If the discharge petition gets 218 signatures, the generic drug legislation will be forced to a floor vote, thereby sidestepping the Republican leadership who have been unwilling so far to bring up the legislation. On July 31, by an overwhelming vote of 78-21, the Senate passed similar legislation, sponsored by Sens. John McCain and Charles Schumer.
This bill wouldnt be as necessary if we could pass a drug benefit under Medicare. That would still be the best way to help seniors get the medicine that they need, added Green. It would use the power of Medicare's 40 million consumers to negotiate better prices from the drug companies, which will make drugs more affordable and reduce the cost of the program.
H.R. 1862 would overhaul the laws governing the way prescription drugs are brought to market in order to ensure that less expensive drugs are available when people go to the pharmacy. Loopholes in the current law allow name brand drug companies to keep less expensive drugs off the market and out of pharmacies, forcing seniors and other prescription drug users to pay top dollar for their medications. The bill would ensure timely approval of the cheaper generic drugs by eliminating a number of the legal hurdles blockbuster drug companies erect to keep their less expensive generic competition off the market.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, this bipartisan bill will create competition, slash costs and save consumers as much as $60 billion over the next ten years.
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