Drug Payoffs Face Growing Opposition in U.S.

Support is building in the new Democratic-controlled Congress for legislation to stop brand-name drugmakers from paying rivals to keep cheaper, generic alternatives off the market.Backed by the Federal Trade Commission, lawmakers want to override two federal appeals court rulings in 2005 which permitted the payoffs by Schering-Plough Corp. and AstraZeneca Plc. The rulings triggered a wave of such payments that settle patent litigation between brand-name and generic drug makers.

“We believe billions of dollars are at stake for consumers,” Deborah Platt Majoras, the FTC’s Republican chairwoman, told the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee yesterday. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, a key Republican member of the panel, told her he is open to a bipartisan solution. Similar legislation to bar the payments stalled last year when the Republicans were in control. Read More….

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