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House Declines To Address Generics Provisions of FDA Legislation

Written by on Thursday, July 12th, 2007 Print This Post Print This Post

The House has passed legislation that will overhaul the Food and Drug Administration, but has declined to address the provisions of the legislation dealing with generics, which previously passed in the Senate.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

The House FDA bill, approved 403-16, mostly parallels a bill that passed the Senate in May. Both versions would devote more money to monitoring the safety of marketed drugs and increase the agency’s authority over medications that raise safety concerns. The agency would have the clear ability to order follow-up studies, restrict distribution and enforce changes to the medications’ labels. The bills don’t grant the FDA the power to force a moratorium on direct-to-consumer advertising, a tough restriction that was discussed earlier, though the agency would be able to levy fines for false and misleading promotions.

The conflict between the House and Senate legislation means that we can expect more debate over generics in the coming months.

According to The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog, house leaders appear to be “cooler on biogenerics than their counterparts in the Senate.”

Does the House’s action signal the death knell for generics legislation this year?  It may be too soon to say for certain, but it is clear that the legislation still has a rocky road ahead.

Of course, even if the House ends up passing the legislation ultimately, it’s unclear whether it will be supported by President Bush.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

It’s unclear how the White House will react to the finished product. Before the Senate voted in May, the administration said it agreed with the goals of the legislation but had serious concerns about aspects of the risk plans.

So, if the generics provisions of this legislation were not passed by the House, what did make it through?  The Los Angeles Times explained as follows:

The House bill follows the same basic approach to safety as the Senate version, but consumer groups said it would give the FDA stronger regulatory powers in some areas.

Both bills would set up a computerized network to scan medical insurance and pharmacy records for patterns that could signal problems with new drugs. The FDA now relies on anecdotal reports submitted by doctors and drug companies, which are believed to capture only a small fraction of bad drug reactions.

A computerized system could take several years to deploy. The Senate bill sets some benchmarks for the FDA; the House version does not. . . . .

The House bill also includes stiffer fines for drug companies that violate FDA requirements and tighter rules to reduce conflicts of interest among outside scientists who advise the agency.

There is little doubt that we are in for a long battle ahead on the generics issue.  The biotech world will be following this issue closely over the next few months to see how it unfolds.

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