United States: Legislative Overview: First Quarter 2017

One goal of BioLoquitur is to provide commentary and analysis on important developments in U.S. law affecting the pharmaceutical and biologics industry. It can be easy to forget that legal developments are not limited to the latest court decisions or agency actions, however. The most profound changes in U.S. law arise from legislation. This post thus provides a snapshot of relevant legislative proposals for the first quarter in 2017.

While the bills highlighted in this post have yet to make significant progress in the legislative process, they provide insight into what issues Congress is concerned about and how they might address such issues.

Currently, there over a dozen bills pending in the House of Representatives and Senate relevant to pharmaceutical and biologics companies. Common themes include (1) expediting the market entry of generic drugs and biosimilar products; (2) addressing drug shortages; and (3) discouraging certain settlement provisions between brands and generic companies that are thought to have anti-competitive effects, such as "pay-for-delay" requirements. Below is a short summary of key bills and their status to date. For a Quick View table, click here.

"Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act," H.R. 1776; S. 771. On March 29, 2017, Representative Janice Schakowsky and Senator Al Franken, both democrats, introduced identical bills that would enact comprehensive reforms relating to pharmaceutical drugs and biologics products. Provisions of the bills would impose reporting requirements, levy taxes and eliminate tax deductions for certain actions, reduce market exclusivity periods, and imposing de facto limits on settlements between generic drug companies and brand companies. The bills have been referred to committees. Significant provisions include:

  • Sec. 101. Requiring Mandatory reporting for drug and biologic manufacturers, including disclosure of sales volume, gross and net revenue and profit, drug pricing, information executive compensation, and a breakdown of expenditures for research and development, costs of goods sold, acquisition and licensing costs, and marketing and advertising spend.
  • Sec. 202. Imposing a tax on revenue earned because of any "price spike" in prescription drug pricing.
  • Sec. 204. Permitting the importation and sale of drugs by foreign wholesale distributors and licensed foreign. pharmacies, starting initially with Canadian pharmacies.
  • Sec. 303 (a)(1). Allowing the early submission of an abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) for a new chemical entity (NCE) (three years after approval) and shortening the approval time for ANDAs under certain conditions. Currently, the earliest date for submitting an ANDA is four years after the approval of the NCE.
  • Sec. 303(a)(2). Restricting the current three year supplementary regulatory exclusivity granted for new indications, formulations, dosages and the like to only those approvals that show a "significant clinical benefit over existing therapies.
  • Sec. 303(a)(3). Slashing the market exclusivity afforded to new biologic drugs from 12 years to 7 years.
  • Sec. 304. Revoking market exclusivities for drugs and biologics for certain violations, including misbranding, illegal marketing, kickbacks, and other acts of fraud.
  • Sec. 404. Creating a legal presumption that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can rely on that the following settlements between brand companies and ANDA filers have an anticompetitive effect:
    • Settlements that provide the ANDA filer with anything of value, including an exclusive license, other than the right to market before the expiration of the patents covering the drug, payment of legal expenses up to $7.5 million, and/or a covenant not to sue;
    • Settlements where the ANDA filer agrees to limit or forego research and development, manufacturing, marketing or sales of the ANDA product for any period of time.
  • Sec. 405. Preventing deductions for direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs.
  • Sec. 406. Requiring the FTC to prepare a report accessing the impact of "product hopping," where "product hopping" refers to when a manufacturer develops a new formulation of a known drug or biologic product for a particular indication and then acts to reduce or eliminate demand for the original product,

"Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act," S.495. Introduced by Independent Senator Bernie Sanders on March 2, 2017, this bill would broadly eliminate patent and market exclusivity provisions for drugs and biologics and instead establish a fund to award prizes and payments for medical innovations. The bill has been referred to committee.

Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, H.R. 1245; S. 469. On February 28, 2017, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders introduced identical bills to permit importation of drugs from foreign wholesales and foreign pharmacies. The provisions of these bills are largely subsumed within the more comprehensive "Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act." The bills are currently in committee.

The "OPEN ACT," H.R. 1223. On February 27, 2017, Republican Representative Gus Bilirakis introduced the OPEN ACT, i.e., the Orphan Products Extension Now Accelerating Cures and Treatments Act of 2017. The OPEN ACT would grant an additional 6 months of market exclusivity for an approval of a new indication treating rare diseases and conditions. This exclusivity would extend any existing market exclusivity, such as the five-year exclusivity period for NCE products. The bill has been referred to committee.

"Increasing Competition in Pharmaceuticals Act," S. 297; "Lower Drug Costs through Competition Act," H.R. 749. Senator Susan Collins, Republican, and Representative Kurt Schrader, Democrat, introduced these related bills on February 2, 2017 and January 30, 2017 respectively. The legislation requires the FDA to prioritize and complete an expedited review of ANDA applications for generic drugs where there is a shortage or where there is only one current manufacturer and no more than two tentative approvals for other manufacturers. The bills also authorize a study on the REMS program, which allows the FDA to require Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies from manufacturers of drugs or biological products that have known or potential serious risks. The bill is currently referred to committee.

"Short on Competition Act," S. 183. Introduced by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar on January 20, 2017, the Short on Competition Act also addresses drug shortages. In addition to authorizing expedited reviews of ANDA applications, the Act would permit temporary importation of drugs from foreign countries. The bill is currently referred to committee.

"Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act," S. 124. On January 12, 2017, Senator Klobuchar (D) introduced a bill directed to prohibiting certain settlement agreements provisions between brand and generic drug companies. The provisions of this Act are mostly subsumed within the more comprehensive "Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act." Senator Klobuchar's bill has been referred to committee.

Bioloquitur will continue to track legislative proposals throughout the year and report on any relevant developments.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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