Senior Groups Urge Governor to Sign Bill to Lower Drug Costs

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
The Federal Trade Commission estimates Americans pay at least $3.5 billion more per year for brand-name drugs because generic companies take money to hold back their inventions. Photo Credit: Unsplash

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Groups that advocate for seniors are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign a bill that is designed to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Assembly Bill 824 would deter drug companies from making so-called pay for delay deals in which generic companies agree to keep their product off the market. Blanca Castro, advocacy director with AARP California, said these arrangements result in higher drug prices that can push low-income seniors to take desperate measures.

“They either don’t take the drugs the way they’re prescribed, because they want them to last; or they have to choose between buying food or buying prescription drugs,” Castro said.

The pharmaceutical companies claim these agreements actually expedite entry of generics onto the market. But Castro says that argument is unproven.

The first-in-the-nation bill would give the state Attorney General more resources to pursue this type of case. Castro said it makes them easier to prosecute by putting the onus on the drug companies to prove the deals aren’t unfair to the consumer.

“It shifts the burden of proof on the pharmaceutical company,” she said. “Right now the attorney general must prove that the settlements are anti-competitive.”

Consumer groups are working with supporters in Congress to try to ban the practice of pay-for-delay deals entirely.