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Pharmaceutical companies block access to some brand-name drugs, meaning no lower-cost generic for you

Generic drugs cost

Pharmaceutical companies that refuse to provide samples of their products to generic drug companies can keep those less-expensive versions from being developed, according to the New York Times.

The Federal Trade Commission is now investigating what Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, calls drug makers’ “shenanigans,” which “preserve a brand firm’s monopoly indefinitely,” the Times reports.

What’s more, some of the medications generic companies have tried to get access to are among the most expensive.  Revlimid, a brand-name cancer drug, can cost patients $20,000 a month, according to a court hearing cited in the Times story.

Congress is considering legislation that would allow generic companies to sue for samples, allowing a federal court to require brand-name companies to turn them over.

Pharmaceutical companies have pushed back, saying the FDA approved a record number of generic drugs in 2017, which they say shows generic makers have mostly been able to get the samples they need. And they say patients could be at risk because generic companies might not follow the same strict safety protocols, according to the Times.

Meantime, the federal government continues to press on drug prices, as consumers say they’re among their biggest concerns as health care costs rise.

What do you think? Should drug companies be required to share so consumers can have lower-cost alternatives? How have you been affected by rising drug costs? Share your comments with Voices.