L.D. 1280, An Act to Require Drug Manufacturers to Comply with Federal Law, is one of the most important bills the Maine Legislature is considering this session, and we’re urging our colleagues to enact it.

If passed, this bill would guarantee Mainers have access to affordable prescription drugs by compelling all drug makers to comply with federal laws designed to lower the cost of medicine. This bipartisan measure received a positive vote of 11-2 from the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce and Economic Development and has no cost to taxpayers.

When a generic drug maker is interested in bringing a competitive medicine to the marketplace, it must first purchase samples of the drug from the brand-name pharmaceutical company. Once they have those samples, the generics company can then begin the detailed approval process required by the FDA to prove that their generic drug has the same effect as the brand-name pharmaceutical.

However, the FDA has documented time and again that generic companies are being blocked from acquiring these samples so that they may bring their generic drug to the marketplace. Who is blocking the sale of these samples? The companies who develop and sell the brand-name versions of these drugs. They do this through delay tactics, such as lawsuits, that can take years to resolve, thereby unfairly extending their patents long beyond their expiration date. These tactics guarantee that high-cost, brand-name drugs are the only ones available to Mainers.

It isn’t right and it isn’t fair, but it happens all the time, and it is the residents of Maine who suffer. As our constituents find it increasingly hard to afford the health care they need, it is time to end the systematic practices that protect brand-name drug producers from generic competition.

L.D. 1280 ensures competition in the marketplace by not allowing licensed manufacturers to impose any restriction on the sale that would block or delay eligible generic companies from engaging in the testing they need to enter the market. The Maine attorney general would be empowered to enforce the law if a company were to avoid selling their samples to a generics company, and compel the brand-name producer to sell its product at a fair market value to the generic company.

There are naysayers against this initiative, but their arguments are red herrings, designed to avoid arguing the merits of this issue. We need to stay focused on what is important to our state. Maine will not tolerate drug companies avoiding the rules designed to make low-cost medicine available to our citizens.

Generics are 80 to 85 percent less costly than the equivalent brand-name drugs and are prescribed more than 90 percent of the time when they are available. Generics saved our state $1.05 billion in 2016, including $156 million in savings for Medicaid. It is estimated that Maine would additionally save millions more should L.D. 1280 pass.

We and our colleagues from both sides of the aisle are supporting this commonsense, modest solution, which will reap huge rewards for the health and quality of life for our State. We urge our colleagues to stand with us and do what is right for Maine’s patients and taxpayers by voting yes on L.D. 1280.

Troy Jackson of Allagash is the Democratic leader in the Maine Senate. Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, serves on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee.