Medical device makers are asking Congress to extend their patent protections.
The manufacturers want the Senate to pass the legislation by early next year, which is just three months away.
But the legislation’s sponsors aren’t happy with the timing, and they’re pushing for the extension of the patent term to March 1, 2019.
The Senate passed the legislation last week, with Vice President Mike Pence signing the bill into law.
Senate Democrats said the legislation is an important tool to protect the industry’s patents, and it would help to keep up with medical advancements.
“This bill does not end patent protections for any new technology, or any patent in the future,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said in a statement.
“Patents are an important part of innovation, and we must ensure that patents remain a powerful tool to preserve them for future generations.
The time is right to ensure that medical device makers have the tools to keep innovating.”
The bill passed the Senate last week with only six votes.
The chamber will need the support of seven Democrats to pass a final version.
Democrats also want the patent extension to cover more devices, and said that if it were to go into effect before the new patent term ends, then manufacturers would be forced to stop using new medical devices, which would make them less attractive to the consumer.
The extension of patent protection would also mean more expensive devices for patients, which could result in fewer doctors prescribing them.
The bill also calls for an audit of the medical device industry to ensure the safety of the products that are being made.
The new bill also requires a $500 million cap on drug costs, but not all members of Congress agree on that.
In a statement, Sens.
Tom Carper, D, Del., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said that the bill “fails to provide the additional resources needed to ensure a safe, effective medical device for every patient.”
They also said that they “are disappointed that it is unclear whether the Senate will approve the measure for the full Senate vote, which needs to happen to avoid any further delay in the medical devices bill.”