By Marian Krumberger
Every so often a piece of free market affirming legislation comes along that is so good that even liberals have to admit it’s worth supporting. I know, it’s a rarity these days, but it does happen and the Creating and Restoring Equal Access too Equivalent Samples Act (CREATES Act) is proving it.
Now, it’s no secret that prescription drug prices are out of control. It’s also no secret that generics inject competition that drives down the cost of prescription drugs. The problem is, many drug companies are blocking generics from entering the market, even after patents expire.
The concept of the CREATES Act is simple. Under the agreements that regulate drug patents, inventors are essentially granted a government-sanctioned monopoly for around twenty years, after which they are required to make their formulas public to other companies that are then free to enter the marketplace. However, these other companies have to demonstrate to the FDA that their product is chemically identical to the brand-name manufacturers’ product. They cannot do this without samples of the drugs, which the brand-name manufacturers are obligated to provide. Unfortunately, that’s not happening in many cases, and brand-name manufacturers are using stalling tactics and loopholes to box out completely legal competition.
The CREATES Act provides generic drug manufacturers with a legal avenue to compel brand-name manufacturers to provide those samples in a timely fashion. The CREATES Act is a simple solution to a problem that should not exist – but unfortunately does.
But it goes beyond just consumer savings. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the CREATES Act could save the federal government alone upwards of $3.3 billion over the next decade from programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Savings to consumers and private insurance carriers are expected to be even greater.
Wisconsin Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher gets this bill will provide a market-driven solution to lower drug prices and has signed onto it – the only Republican from Wisconsin to do so thus far. What makes the fact that Gallagher is the only Wisconsin Republican to co-sponsor the bill odd is the bill is literally supported by every political wing Washington has to offer. Staunch conservatives like Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul support the bill. House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows supports the bill. As do Leftwing Democrats like Senator Amy Klobuchar and Dick Durbin. It’s even got the support of moderates Republican Susan Collins and Democrat Claire McCaskill. The bill is also supported by conservative groups like FreedomWorks and the Heritage Foundation.
In fact, the Heritage Foundation’s Alden Abbott said of the CREATES Act, “In short, the CREATES Act would, on balance, reduce the incidence and burden of abusive regulatory delays that undermine pharmaceutical industry competition. It would do this by fostering competition and avoiding new, heavy-handed regulation.” Yes, you read that right, Democrats are supporting a bill that wouldn’t rely on government regulations!
While Gallagher is right to sign onto this market-driven approach to lower drug costs, he needs help. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Ron Johnson could play a major role in moving the CREATES Act forward. To date, neither has signed on to the bill. Both of them should. And they should use their clout in Washington to see that it gets passed.
When the rare opportunity to pass conservative, market-driven legislation comes along that is so good even Democrats have to support it, we cannot pass up the opportunity. Ryan and Johnson should join Gallagher and pass the CREATES Act now.