It's called "pay for delay": One prescription drug company pays another to keep a generic drug out of the marketplace. And it's costing us, as consumers and taxpayers, an estimated $3.5 billion each year.

A bill in the California Assembly, however, could prevent drug manufacturers from cutting pay-for-delay deals. On Aug. 30, lawmakers, patients and healthcare advocates joined CALPIRG at the State Capitol to rally in support of the bill.

CALPIRG's analysis of the top 20 drugs impacted by pay-for-delay deals reveals that the agreements have delayed generic medicines by an average of five years, forcing patients to buy brand-name equivalents with costs 10 times as high. “It’s outrageous that drug companies get away with making sweetheart deals to keep lower-priced generic medicine off the market,” said CALPIRG Executive Director Emily Rusch to The Los Angeles Times.

The California bill is co-sponsored by Assemblymember Jim Wood and Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Photo: CALPIRG Executive Director Emily Rusch speaks in support of a bill that would prevent drug companies from striking pay-for-delay deals. Credit: Staff