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A. J. (Jim) Norby

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Bill Kadereit   

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Ed Beltram

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 edbeltram@msn.com  

 

Retiree Leader Calls On Congress To Remove Roadblocks To Lower-Priced Generic Drugs

Legislation Stalled By Drug Industry Lobbyists Costing Consumers Billions of Dollars By Keeping Generic Drugs Off The Market

WASHINGTON (Nov. 16, 2007)

The president of the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) today called on Congress to stop yielding to pharmaceutical industry lobbyists and stand up for America’s consumers by removing roadblocks that are delaying availability of lower-cost generic drugs. “Congress needs to move forward with legislation that will speed safe and cheaper generic drugs to the market,” said A. J. (Jim) Norby, NRLN president. “By not taking action, Congress is depriving Americans—especially older citizens with limited incomes—of saving billions of dollars because generic drugs are 30 to 80 percent cheaper than brand-name medications.” Norby said reports that legislation aimed at speeding the availability of cheaper generic drugs has stalled in Congress because of the drug industry pumping billions of dollars into lobbying efforts is just one of the bottlenecks. He said another is Congress’ delay in providing adequate funding to the Federal Drug Administration to reduce the nearly two-year backlog of generic drugs in the FDA’s approval pipeline. “Medco Health Solutions Inc. released this month results of a survey of 1,000 Americans over age 65 that showed one in four retirees spend 10 percent or more of their monthly retirement income on medications alone,” Norby said. “This means that millions of retirees would benefit by switching to cheaper generic drugs and Congress is limiting their access to more choices by not taking action.” The Federal Trade Commission has called on Congress to pass legislation that would ban “reverse payments,” a drug industry practice in which a brand-name company pays a generic manufacturer to delay the introduction of a generic drug. The FTC says such settlements could be costing American consumers billions of dollars. Norby said Senator Herb Kohl has offered a bill for the past two sessions of Congress to address reverse payments. This year, House supporters introduced a similar bill, which remains in committee. Neither bill has come up for a vote, although the Senate bill did make it through the Judiciary Committee a few months ago. “Our elected representatives owe it to their constituents to bring these bills to the Senate and House floors for a vote,” Norby said. “Then Americans can tell by the votes cast which members of Congress support consumers and those who support the drug industry lobbyists. Unless Congress acts to speed up the availability of generic drugs, America’s consumers will continue to be forced to pay for the higher-priced brand-name drugs.” Based in Washington, D.C., the NRLN is dedicated to securing federal legislation that will guarantee the fair and equitable treatment of retirees in the private and public sector. The NRLN represents a non-partisan, grass roots coalition of retiree associations with a combined membership of some two million men and women who are seeking to protect their pension and healthcare benefits. For more information, visit the NRLN Web site