HARRISONBURG — U.S. Reps. Ben Cline, R-Lexington, Doug Collins, R-Ga., Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., and Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday to address the rising cost of prescription drugs.

The Terminating the Extension of Rights Misappropriated Act, or TERM, makes the process of challenging a brand-name pharmaceutical patent in court fairer in order to help generic pharmaceutical options come to the market faster, according to a press release from the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The TERM Act, or H.R. 3199, would call for title 35 of U.S. code to be amended to prevent double patenting and other purposes, according to the legislation.

Specifically, the TERM Act would:

•Promote competition in the pharmaceutical market to help provide patients with additional choices and reduce pharmaceutical costs.

•Require brand-name manufacturers to prove the relevance of patents filed.

•Discourage brand-name manufacturers from filing trivial patents simply to maintain their exclusive market share.

Under current patent statute, generic drug manufacturers must prove why a new patent should not be granted on existing medications.

“I am proud to introduce the Terminating the Extension of Rights Misappropriated Act with my colleagues, Collins, Jeffries and Mucarsel-Powell,” Cline said in a press release. “This bipartisan legislation would help limit the practice of ‘evergreening,’ or extending the period of exclusivity well beyond the term of the first patent with mere trivial changes to the original patent, which will allow the quicker introduction of generic medication to market.”

Collins said competition in the pharmaceutical market increases options for patients while decreasing the cost for prescriptions.

“Pharmaceutical companies are great innovators that create life-saving cures and treatments for families everywhere,” Collins said. “Unfortunately, some manufacturers simply file additional patents in order to delay generic drugs from coming to market.”

For Jefferies, it was a need to put people over profits.

“In the United States of America, access to high quality, affordable health care should be a right, not a privilege,” Jeffries said. “The bipartisan TERM Act will curb patent abuses in order to expedite the entrance of lower cost generic drugs to market.”

Mucarsel-Powell said he has always been committed to working with anyone regardless of political party affiliation to lower prescription drug costs.

“That’s why I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan TERM Act to take on drug manufacturers’ shady practice of amassing endless patents to prevent more affordable generic medicines from reaching the market and to stop these companies from increasing their profits at the expense of hardworking Americans,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “We need a comprehensive strategy to tackle our skyrocketing health care costs and taking on drug companies’ anti-competitive patent practices is an important step in doing so.”

No further action has been taken on the legislation since being introduced Tuesday.

Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or jwetzler@dnronline.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica

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