WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Prospects are good for passage of a bill banning authorized generics, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., said Wednesday.
Eliminating so-called authorized generics -- whereby a brand-drug manufacturer produces a generic version of its own drug after the drug goes off patent -- is a "tremendous cost-saving alternative," Kohl told reporters. "It would reduce the cost of medicine without hurting anyone.
"There's a lot of hope this can have bipartisan support."
The chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights reintroduced a bill Tuesday that would make it illegal for brand-name pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce generic versions of their own drugs.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
By federal law, the first producer of a generic version of a drug gets a 180-day, marketing-exclusivity period, during which no other generic versions can be sold.
There is also a possibility that a provision banning authorized generics will be included in the Senate version of a bill authorizing the secretary of health and human services to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D, Kohl said.
It could encourage drug companies to be more flexible at the negotiating table if the generic market is more competitive, he added. "It's better to lose some of your profit than all of your business."
Brand-name pharmaceutical companies say authorized generics are a good choice for consumers, who would not have that option under the proposed ban.
Generic-drug manufacturers argue authorized generics, which are generally more expensive than other generic versions of drugs, are unfair patent extensions.