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Senate panel bans payments to delay generics

AP/Boston Globe, July 30, 2010

In a defeat for the powerful drug lobby, a Senate panel approved legislation to prohibit drug companies from paying generic drug makers to delay bringing less costly products to market. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the measure, which was inserted into a spending bill that funds the Federal Trade Commission's budget. The measure would ban a "pay-to-delay" practice -- opposed by the FTC in a series of lawsuits brought since 2001 -- in which brand-name drug companies and generic drug makers both profit. Brand-name drug makers get higher prices while the generic companies are paid to stay out of the market. In a dramatic vote, the panel deadlocked 15-15 on an amendment by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., to strip the provision. Four Democrats voted with the drug lobby. Drug company lobbyists in the audience thought they had the vote won, provided they could win over every panel Republican. But Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, voted against the drug companies.