INCREASING COMPETITION IN THE GENERIC DRUG MARKET
This week I introduced the Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act with my friend Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Or.). The legislation is aimed at keeping drug prices down by increasing competition in the generic drug market.
Current law awards 180 days of exclusivity on the market to a drug manufacturer when they are the first to file a generic drug application with the FDA for a drug for which there is no generic. The purpose of this award is to reward manufacturers for challenging weak patents and bringing new low-cost drugs to the market.
The 180 days begins once the manufacturer starts marketing the drug, but even before the manufacturer begins marketing, all other generic competitors are blocked from coming to market. This allows some manufacturers to “park” the exclusivity before receiving final approval, blocking competition for more than the 180 days intended by the law. In these cases, no other generics are able to come to the market until the first manufacturer receives final approval, begins marketing the drug, and the subsequent 180 days have passed.
Our legislation would stop first generic drug “parking.” Under the BLOCKING Act, if a second generic drug application is blocked from receiving approval solely due to a first generic drug manufacturer parking their exclusivity at the tentative approval stage, the 180 days immediately begins to run, preventing limitless delays for other generics to come to the market.
As the only pharmacist in Congress, one of my top priorities is making prescription drugs more affordable and accessible. This proposal has support from President Trump and bipartisan support from members of Congress. I hope it will move through Congress as soon as possible for the benefit of all patients.
SEEKING WOUNDED WARRIOR OR MEDICALLY RETIRED VETERAN
I am seeking a wounded warrior or medically retired veteran for a position in our Savannah or Brunswick district office.
The position will work with military and veteran constituents in the First District to handle veterans-related casework and act as a facilitator between constituents and federal, state, and local agencies.
It is an honor and privilege to represent so many active duty service members and veterans in the First District of Georgia. One of my top priorities is ensuring our heroes receive the help and assistance they need and deserve. There is no one better to assist with this task than one of their own and I hope interested veterans will apply.
The Wounded Warrior Fellowship Program was established by the House of Representatives to provide employment opportunities for wounded or disabled veterans within member offices.
To qualify, veterans must meet all of the following requirements: Honorably discharged, released from active duty within the last five years, terminal pay grades at or below E-5 or O-3, 20 percent or greater service connected disabilities (waived if you have a Purple Heart). Veterans who are in receipt of a 20-year or Temporary Early Retirement Authorization (TERA) retirement are not eligible for the program.
Interested veterans should go to https://www.usajobs.gov/ and search “Wounded Warrior Fellowship Program” for more information and how to apply.
FROM OUR NATION’S CAPITOL CXCVI
Monday, January 28: I’m in Savannah this morning at our District office where I have the opportunity to meet with a few constituents before heading back to Washington. My first meeting is with my good friend Bert Adams who, like many constituents, follows national politics closely and is an invaluable resource and sounding board for me. Next, I meet with Deb Thompson with United Way of the Coastal Empire to learn more of the great work that this organization does including their 2-1-1 program. The 2-1-1 program is a free and confidential service that helps people across the country find the local resources they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether it be financial, domestic, health or disaster related, this great program that can be accessed by phone or computer provides critical services that can improve and save lives. My final meeting of the morning is with Damon Mullis, the new Ogeechee Riverkeeper and executive director. Damon brings a wealth of experience to this position and will do a great job promoting the mission of the Riverkeeper to protect, preserve and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin. Afterwards, I head to the airport for my return trip to Washington and once I’m back at the Capitol, I meet with representatives from the American Cable Association.
Next, I head to an Energy and Commerce (E&C) member briefing where we discuss health care issues soon to be before the committee. Afterwards, I attend our weekly Whip Team meeting and then head to the House Chamber for our first vote series of the week. Following our vote series, I remain in the Chamber and pay tribute to Young Harris College Trustee Emeritus and former U.S. Congressman Jack Brinkley who passed recently.
Tuesday, January 29: After our weekly GOP Conference meeting this morning where we discuss the Continuing Resolution (CR) that was passed last week and the upcoming border security negotiations, I head to another E&C member meeting where we discuss more issues to come before the committee soon including climate change. Afterwards, I head back to my office where I meet with representatives from the Partnership for Conservation and we discuss their work to protect the status of conservation easements under the tax code.
Next, I head to a meeting of the conservative Republican Study Committee before heading back to my office for our weekly staff briefing. Our first and only vote series of the day is next and in between votes, I step over to Statuary Hall for a live TV interview with Fox Business Network where I appear with my House Democratic colleague, Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) to discuss the border security negotiations.
After votes, I remain in the House Chamber where I pay tribute to my good friend and great Savannahian, Howard Morrison, who passed recently. Once back in my office I record a video for an upcoming Student National Pharmaceutical Association meeting that I will be unable to attend in person.
Wednesday, January 30: I’m live on Fox Business this morning as Rep. Garamendi (D-CA) and I continue our discussion of border security and the importance of the negotiations that are currently in process. Afterwards, I head to my office where I meet with a representative from Secure America Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports efforts to strengthen social security.
Last session I sponsored The Tax Identity Protection Act, a bill directing the IRS to write a report to Congress stating how they can better find illegal immigrants using stolen social security numbers. I will be introducing this bill again this year and Secure America Alliance has brought over 2000 petitions supporting the bill to my office. Next, I meet with my Chief of Staff and other members of my staff to discuss the generic exclusivity bill, H.R.938 - Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act, that I will be co-sponsoring with my Democratic colleague on the E&C committee, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR). Afterwards, I head to the House Chamber for our first vote series of the day and later return for our second and final vote series of the day. Next, I head to a messaging and media training program before heading to the airport for my return flight home.
Thursday, January 31: I’m at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah this morning as I have the opportunity to meet with CEO Shayne George and his leadership team to learn more about the exciting changes coming to the facility. This 612 bed hospital opened in 1955 and has evolved into one of the most advanced healthcare providers in the region. With the regions only Level 1 trauma center, the regions only children’s hospital and the Savannah campus of Mercer University School of Medicine, Memorial serves 35 counties across southeast Georgia and South Carolina. This morning, I have the opportunity to tour the Children’s Hospital and Mental Health facilities that are being renovated.
Afterwards, I head to the visitation services of local Savannah business leader and my good friend David Sovchen who passed earlier this week. David owned a number of Wendy’s restaurants in the area and I worked closely with him when I served as Mayor of Pooler and he built a restaurant in our city. Later, I head to the Buy Local Savannah monthly meeting on River Street where I have the opportunity to speak briefly to the group and hear my friends Clay Johnson and Jeremy Davis share with the group the phenomenal success of The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra. Based out of Savannah, this outstanding orchestra plays all over the world and will soon be heading to Israel for a tour. My final meeting of the day is with my good friend Jerry Konter and retired Savannah periodontist Paul Kulberch to discuss issues involving Israel and the Middle East.