By Steve Usdin
Contributing Editor

WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives has launched a new front in the government's domestic "war on drugs" with the introduction of legislation to regulate all prescription drug prices. Under the legislation, a review board would oversee initial prices of new drugs as well as increases in the prices of existing drugs, and companies found guilty of excessive pricing could lose patent protection for the product or even for unrelated products.

Illinois Democratic Rep. Richard Durbin, a member of the House Democratic leadership, last week introduced HR1434, the Prescription Drug Consumer Protection Act of 1993. The bill envisions the creation of a Prescription Drug Price Review Board in the executive branch that would "review drug prices and price increases if they are excessive," according to Durbin.

Warning from Raab

Genentech chief executive G. Kirk Raab, who was scheduled to testify today before Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care task force, said the Durbin bill and other attempts to regulate the price of new drugs will remove the incentives to bring new cures to market.