SENATORS MOVE TO BLOCK GENERIC PAYOFFS

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Sen Patrick Leahy (D, Vt) will introduce a bill to outlaw payments that are made by brand name pharmaceutical companies to generics firms to prevent competition. Leahy said he would work with other senators, including Charles Grassley (R, Iowa), Herbert Kohl (D, Wisc), and Charles Schumer (D, NY), to reintroduce the bill they sponsored in June 2006.

Addressing a US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue, Leahy said, "Congress never intended for brand name drug companies to be able to pay off generic companies not to produce generic medicines—that would be a shame, harmful to consumers, and a crime." Support for the bill came from Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz.

Leibowitz pointed out that, in 2005, only 3 of 11 US patent settlements between brand name and generic companies had included both an agreement to defer generic entry and some form of payment from the brand name firm to the generic challenger; this number had risen to 14 of 28 final settlement agreements in 2006.