15 November 1999 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]Vice President Al Gore, calling the high cost of prescription drugs unacceptable, is proposing new measures to bring cheaper generic versions onto the market more quickly.
During a campaign stop in Washington, D.C., last week, Mr. Gore called for legislation to make it more difficult for pharmaceutical companies to get extensions on drug patents, which delay the ability of other firms to market generic versions of essential medicines.
"This is an unacceptable situation in America," the Vice President said. "We have to take action now" to address the high cost of prescription drugs.
The Democratic presidential candidate wants Congress to enact legislation requiring an independent analysis of the effects that patent extensions would have on the costs of Medicaid and veterans programs, as well as their implications for consumers.
"Today, when unfair patent extensions are granted, consumers pay the difference in higher drug prices," Mr. Gore said. "Before gaining such exceptions, Congress should reassess the real costs for the American taxpayer. Patents are great, but it's got to be balanced against the need for reasonable prices after patent terms have expired."
Mr. Gore added that he would work with Congress to ensure that patent extensions are treated as separate legislation and not "attached to larger pieces of legislation in the middle of the night by special interests."
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