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Sen. Durbin Details Efforts To Reduce Cost of Prescription Drugs

Chase Cavanaugh

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visited SwedishAmerican hospital in Rockford Tuesday to highlight the importance of reducing the cost of prescription drugs.

He discussed three bills that take aim at this problem. The first is known as the Remedy Act, and Durbin says it would limit the abuse of patents to prevent generic drugs from threatening a drug company’s monopoly.

“Too often, generic drugs are dropped by patents for non-innovative or peripheral aspects of the drug, like the coating on the pill," he said. "The Remedy Act would restrict this 30-month freeze of FDA approval so that it only applies to the primary drug patent.”

He also addressed drug companies that market single-use vials with more medicine than is needed for a single dose. For example, Takeda Pharmaceuticals markets a cancer drug in 3-ounce vials.  Durbin says this amount is more than needed for many patients, and as a result, doctors have to throw out the rest, even though the full dose was paid for. The Refund Act would fix this.

“It says taxpayers will only pay for the amount of drug that’s given to the patient, not for the part that’s thrown away," he said. "Our bipartisan legislation enables Medicare to recoup money that was paid to drug companies for discarded medication.”

A final bill, the Flat Price Act, would address the period in which a drug company gets an exclusive monopoly on a product from patents. It would reduce the time a drug company receives a patent monopoly on a drug if it raises prices by more than 10%.

Durbin stressed that all these measures were introduced with bipartisan support.