For many of us, a pharmaceutical regimen is part of daily life. From controlling blood pressure to keeping cholesterol in check, life-saving medicines have transformed healthcare to the point where medical problems are manageable with prescription drugs. But pharmaceutical advancements come with a big price tag. Prescription drugs account for a whopping $307 billion in annual healthcare expenses, an amount expected to rise as new therapies come on the market.
It’s clear that a key component to building an affordable healthcare system is access to safe, cost effective medications like generic drugs.
"Generics" offer a safe alternative to brand-name medications. Today, four out of every five prescriptions are filled with generics, which are 75% less expensive than the brand counterparts yet identical in composition. But so many more of these generic drugs — 2,800 to be precise — are stuck in the "pipeline" because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lacks the resources to inspect the factories where they are made and approve their usage.
Today’s drug supply chain is global in nature, and many of these medications include ingredients produced in foreign countries. But under current law, overseas facilities are not routinely visited by the FDA, delaying the approval process and slowing down the generic medicines introduced in the marketplace.
To break down these obstacles and ensure a safe and swift FDA process, I introduced the Generic Drug and Biosimilar User Fee Act (H.R. 3988). In addition to putting foreign factories under the same rigorous inspection regime as domestic plants, my bill establishes the first-ever generic drug user fee program so that generic drug companies — not taxpayers or consumers— bear the $300 million annual cost of application review and foreign factory inspections.
My bill was approved by the House of Representatives as part of an FDA reform package in May and it is on track to be signed into law as soon as this summer. This will go a long way towards bringing down healthcare costs by lowering your pharmacy bills while ensuring your medications are of the highest quality.
As co-chair of the Doctors Caucus, I’m focused on healthcare reforms like the generic drug legislation because it will save lives and put money back into your pocket. For more information, visit my web site at Murphy.House.Gov. On a related note, I know many Medicare recipients find that the maze of plans and options to be quite challenging. Should you have any questions, please contact my office in Mt. Lebanon at 412-344-5583 or Greensburg at 724-850-7312.