Senator’s “Ensuring Innovation Act” Stops Big Pharma From Keeping Drug Costs High by Unfairly Extending Monopolies

WASHINGTON, D.C. [4/15/21]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith’s (D-Minn.) bipartisan legislation to help lower prescription drug costs is headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law after passing the House on Wednesday, and passing the Senate in March.

The Ensuring Innovation Act, led by Sen. Smith and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), will stop pharmaceutical manufacturers from claiming new innovations when they make insignificant modifications to their products in order to extend their monopolies and keep drug prices high for consumers.

Right now, pharmaceutical companies engage in “evergreening,” which allows them to extend their patents for five years when they make minor, insignificant changes to a drug. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tried to end the practice by only granting these patent exclusivities to drugs that truly have a new chemical entity, but a district court decision invalidated the agency’s ability to block this practice. The Ensuring Innovation Act would ensure the FDA has the ability to curb this practice.

“We need to stand up for Americans who are struggling to afford life-saving prescription drugs. This is especially important as we navigate the public health and economic crisis of COVID-19,” said Sen. Smith. “The House passage of our bipartisan Ensuring Innovation Act is important progress in the fight to make medications more effective and drive down costs for consumers. The next step is for President Biden to sign this into law. ” 

“We must lower prescription drug costs. We can do this by increasing competition and closing loopholes which prevent generics from reaching the marketplace. This bill does both,” said Dr. Cassidy. “It’s good for your health. It’s good for your wallet. It’s a good piece of legislation.” 

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