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CREATES Act supporters look for help to lower drug prices

A nonprofit group formed earlier this year to address the high cost of prescription drugs has announced a national campaign to help pass the CREATES Act, a bipartisan bill that would lower drug prices and save taxpayers billions.

The legislation prevents brand drug manufacturers from blocking cheaper generic drugs from coming to market, and enjoys support from a bipartisan group of senators including Republicans Mike Lee, John McCain and Chuck Grassley, and Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy, among others.

“President Trump, Republicans, and Democrats have all voiced frustration with high drug prices. But speaking out is not enough. They must act, and this bill could be a bipartisan win for patients,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient, and the president and founder of the group Patients For Affordable Drugs. “The CREATES Act is a common sense solution to stop drug companies from blocking cheaper generics that will bring down skyrocketing drug prices.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the proposed act would save taxpayers $3.3 billion over the next decade.

Patients For Affordable Drugs has organized an online tool on its website, patientsforaffordabledrugs.org, that will allow constituents to directly contact their elected representatives and urge support for the bill.

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Mitchell took the drug Revlimid for more than five years to keep his cancer at bay. Over that time, the price rose from about $8,000 to $10,691 per treatment. At the same time, he said, the drug-maker – Celgene – denied samples of its drug to generic manufacturers who wanted to bring a cheaper competitor to market, causing Mitchell and other patients to pay thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket costs.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America maintains that the CREATES Act could threaten patient safety because it would allow generic drug companies to test and create generic medicines with less rigorous standards than are currently required, would likely lead to more lawsuits by generic companies against drug-making innovators, and would damage protections of intellectual property rights.

Meanwhile, a Celgene official said the company is willing to make samples of Revlimid, Pomalyst and Thalomid available to generic manufacturers for bioequivalence testing, adding that the company "consistently offers and has sold samples for the purposes of such testing, subject to reasonable safety-related requirements." A generic version of Revlimid will be available in the early 2022, the official said.

Patients For Affordable Drugs has heard from scores of patients across the country struggling to pay for drugs. One wrote: “The drugs I need cost about $7,000 per year out-of-pocket. That’s with Medicare and good supplemental insurance. It’s wrong and the laws need to change to help people.”

Americans believe lowering prescription drug prices should be Congress’ top priority, according to polls by Harvard-Politico and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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