Congress asked to look
into rising cost of drugs

State Attorney General Mark Bennett and 37 other attorneys general are seeking relief for consumers from high costs of brand-name prescription drugs.

They have sent a letter to Congress asking that it examine anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical industry and take action to promote generic competition to brand-name drugs.

"The high price of brand-name prescription drugs makes many lifesaving medications unobtainable for large sectors of our population," they wrote.

They pointed out that the cost of brand-name drugs is greatly reduced, and so are state Medicaid costs, when generic equivalents are available.

Since 1998, they said, they have prosecuted many antitrust violations against brand-name and generic pharmaceutical companies.

In their investigations, they said, they have seen "a number of anti-competitive actions that continue to alarm us."

They include improper use of the courts and patent laws by brand-name manufacturers to prevent generic drugs from entering the market.

The group also cited anti-competitive agreements between brand-name manufacturers and generic competitors, collusion between generic companies to prevent expeditious marketing of their products and false and misleading price reporting by certain generic manufacturers, resulting in Medicaid over-reimbursements to pharmacists and physicians.

"We support the safe and efficient availability of generic alternatives to brand-name drugs while protecting the valid intellectual property rights of the brand-name drug companies," the attorneys general said.

"Therefore, we ... urge Congress to carefully examine the relationship between rising prescription drug costs and the above-referenced anti-competitive behavior, and to enact legislation preserving and promoting generic competition for prescription drugs."


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