|WASHINGTON, D.C.— Patients For Affordable Drugs founder David Mitchell will testify before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights today at a hearing titled A Prescription for Change: Cracking Down on Anticompetitive Conduct in Prescription Drug Markets. Mitchell, who depends on innovation and new drugs to stay alive in the face of an incurable blood cancer, will explain that anticompetitive pharmaceutical industry practices hinder innovation and drive up prescription drug prices. He will call on Congress to pass legislation to enact reforms to patent law and to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.
“Anticompetitive abuses of our patent laws actually inhibit innovation,” Mitchell will say at the hearing. “If drug companies can block competition and raise prices at will on old drugs to drive profits and executive bonuses, they have far less incentive to take risk and invest in R&D to find innovative new drugs that could command high prices and save lives.”
Right now, brand-name drug manufacturers use a variety of strategies to extend monopolies and block cheaper generics from coming to market, including product hopping, patent thicketing, pay-for-delay deals, and abuse of the FDA’s citizen petition process. These practices keep prices high and hinder innovation.
Mitchell will also point to anticompetitive arrangements drug companies enter into with pharmacy benefit managers that are specifically structured to thwart lower-priced competition.
“Let’s be clear: These deals are not designed to help patients like me by lowering prices or increasing patient choice. They are emblematic of our drug pricing system that is built to benefit those who profit from it at the expense of those it is supposed to serve,” Mitchell will tell the Senate Judiciary subcommittee.
“But when all is said and done on everything I have just mentioned, we still could wind up paying four times what other wealthy nations pay for brand-name drugs. We need comprehensive reforms, including allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. Medicare negotiation is supported by 90 percent of Americans. It’s time to pass it.”
Legislation to allow Medicare negotiation is moving forward in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden recently released his guiding principles for drug pricing reform, which are expected to be considered for inclusion in the Democrats’ reconciliation budget package later this year. In the House of Representatives, H.R. 3, the bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, was reintroduced in April.
“In the end, all of the work on drug pricing is about restoring balance to ensure we get the innovation we need at prices we can afford,” Mitchell will add.
The hearing begins today at 2:30 PM ET. Written testimony is available upon request.