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U.S. House panel to take up bill to spur generic drug development

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee will take up bipartisan legislation next week to foster generic drug development, the committee's chairman, Representative Greg Walden, said on Thursday.

"President (Donald) Trump made it clear ... he wants competition to lower drug prices, and that is precisely what this measure will help accomplish," Walden, a Republican from Oregon, said at a health subcommittee hearing.

"Specifically the bill will require FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) to prioritize, expedite and review generic applications of drug products that are currently in shortage, or where there are few manufacturers on the market," Walden said.

Trump this week met pharmaceutical executives and called on them to cut prices. He said the government was paying "astronomical" prices for medicines in its health programs for older, disabled and poor people.

Walden said recently there had been cases of "bad actors" who "jacked up the price of drugs because there was no competition," but he did not name names. "We want to make sure that does not happen again," the congressman said.

"For those in the industry who think it's okay to corner a market, drive up prices and rip off consumers, know that your days are numbered," Walden said.

He said the bill would also increase transparency around the backlog of generic drug applications at the FDA, saying there was an "unacceptably high" number.

The bill will be sponsored by Representative Gus Bilirakis, a Republican from Florida, and Representative Kurt Schrader, a Democrat from Oregon, Walden said. Republicans have the majority in both chambers of Congress.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)