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Congress moves forward on prescription drug bills

The House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday approved several bills designed to enhance prescription drug competition.

Details: This includes the CREATES Act, which received bipartisan buy-in after relatively minor changes were made to the original version. 

  • That bill would allow generics manufacturers to sue brand-name drugmakers for access to the samples they need for approval, although the new version offers more protections to brands.
  • The committee also passed a bill that makes it illegal for branded companies to pay generic companies to stay off the market.

The big picture: CREATES is expected to save the federal government $3.9 billion over 10 years, a fraction of the $100 billion spent on Medicare's prescription drug benefit alone in 2017. 

  • But Congress has thus far struggled to do much of anything, and the push to reduce drug prices has to start somewhere.

Go deeper: The drug pricing debate is stuck in the past