Cicilline Introduces Bill to Drive Down Costs of Prescription Drugs

Sep 19, 2019

WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) introduced the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Through Promoting Competition Act of 2019 today to increase competition in the prescription drug market by prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from engaging in harmful “product hopping” that increases corporate profits at the expense of consumers.

 

“Pharmaceutical companies have used every abusive and anticompetitive tool at their disposal to increase their profits at the expense of hardworking folks,” said Cicilline, who has made combating anticompetitive conduct in the pharmaceutical marketplace a top priority in his role as Chair of the House Antitrust Subcommittee. “This is about more than just a corporation’s bottom line. This is life or death for tens of millions of Americans. It’s time for product hopping to be completely outlawed and for any bad actors to be held to account. House Democrats promised to get government working For The People again by lowering the costs of healthcare and prescription drugs, and I’m glad that this bill builds on the progress that we’ve made delivering on that promise.”

 

“Product hopping” is an anticompetitive practice used by drug manufacturers when their patent on a drug is near expiration. Companies use a wide array of tactics to switch patients from that drug to a new drug that they have the exclusive right to sell. The new drug often benefits the manufacturer’s bottom line by extending its ability to charge monopoly prices, but does not offer any new benefits to patients. Once the manufacturer makes the switch to the new drug that has no generic, cheaper alternative, patients get stuck paying higher prices—often for many years at a time.

 

While antitrust enforcers have taken some actions to curb anticompetitive product hopping, the Federal Trade Commission faces significant obstacles to combating all forms of this harmful practice under existing law. The Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Through Promoting Competition Act of 2019 would make prescription drugs more affordable for patients by strengthening the FTC’s ability to bring and win cases against drug companies that engage in all forms of product hopping.