FTC Commissioner Supports Bill Banning Reverse Payments PAL and 20 other organizations recently sent letters to the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, supporting HR 1092, the “Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2007.” FDANews.com Drug Daily Bulletin reports today:

Lawmakers at a House subcommittee hearing debated whether a bill that would ban reverse payment agreements would discourage generic companies from introducing new drugs or allow more generic products at lower prices for consumers.

H.R. 1902, the “Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2007,” would prohibit reverse payment deals where brand pharmaceutical companies compensate generic companies to delay introducing a generic drug to the market. However, it would authorize the FTC to make exemptions allowing the payments if they would be good for consumer interests.

Under reverse payment agreements, brand name and generic companies can stop competing and share the savings consumers should get, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said during a House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection hearing. Reverse payments are costing consumers and government programs “billions and billions of dollars,” he added.

The bill is a “fundamentally sound approach” to the problem of anticompetitive agreements between generic and brand drug firms, FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz said. The FTC currently reviews every settlement between companies under the Hatch-Waxman Act, so it is well prepared to make exemption judgments, he added.

Eleven former FTC commissioners have all supported enforcement efforts against reverse payments, according to Rush. However, critics of the bill said it would discourage generic companies by limiting the types of settlements companies can enter.

Also today, “Bristol Myers Squibb announced that it would plead guilty to two criminal charges for making false statements to a U.S. government agency about the company’s patent settlement for the blood thinner Plavix,” again according to FDANews.com Drug Daily Bulletin It is worth noting that the guilty plea apparently has nothing to do with the reverse payment agreement itself, or with the legality of such agreements. But rather, the plea only addresses the criminal charges of making false statements to a government agency concerning that settlement.