WASHINGTON — Drug makers are about to lose a key ally in Washington.
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a longtime advocate for the drug industry, announced Tuesday he will retire at the end of his term this year. Across a four-decades-long career in the Senate, Hatch used influential positions atop the Finance Committee, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Judiciary Committee to advance the industry’s major policy priorities.
Hatch’s name tops the Hatch-Waxman Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act, a law that helped spur new generic development but also gave brand name drug makers new ways to protect their patents. He helped co-author the Orphan Drug Act, the 1983 law that dramatically increased research and drug development into rare diseases. He pushed, too, to expand the exclusivity window for biologic drugs — a provision ultimately included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act — and later to secure a similar exclusivity period in a major Obama administration trade deal.