Among his many achievements, William “Bill” Haddad, who died at his home in New York on April 30, helped launch the Peace Corps, served as Inspector General of the Office of Economic Opportunity and as a member of the New York City Board of Education, pioneered an AIDS relief program in Africa and fervently supported the civil rights movement and the national anti-poverty campaign.
And he was an untiring advocate for affordable medicine to be accessible to all.
Bill once said, “More people die and suffer in the world each day from the war waged on the availability of affordable medicines than die in classic wars. The ‘medicines war’ never ends and its victims include men, women and children, born and unborn.”
Bill faulted some pharmaceutical companies for perpetuating the war, arguing that their power to extend monopolies and foil market competition caused needless suffering and death. He was an unrelenting fighter against those companies, saying they had become experts at keeping patents “evergreened” by “claiming that pill size, shape and color are proprietary…then propagandizing to doctors that these are important factors in deciding what drug to prescribe.”
Bill never backed down from standing up for what he knew was right.
When some critics would say, “generics can never be made to be equivalent to brands,” Bill’s response was, “The big drug companies have funneled deceptive information to doctors; have attacked the safety and effective of generics and created the false impression there is a difference when there is none.”
By 1983, Bill’s message had begun to resonate in Congress. He had formed the Generic Pharmaceutical Industry Association (now the Association for Accessible Medicines) to get out the message that generic medicines were the answer to accessibility.
On June 23 of that year, Sen. Charles Mathias (R–MD) introduced The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act (S. 1538), legislation designed to create a balance between access and innovation. It would establish a workable regulatory pathway for approving generics while at the same time providing added incentives for new drug innovation.
By 1984, the bill’s primary sponsors were Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), and negotiations between generic and brand drug stakeholders, in which Bill played a leading role, were underway. The legislation, which today is referred to as Hatch-Waxman, was passed later than year and signed into law on September 24, 1984.
As Bill predicted, Hatch-Waxman paved the way for accessible, affordable, FDA-approved generic drugs. Also, just as Bill said, it spurred significant increases in research and development spending by drug innovators. Hatch-Waxman has been called one of the most pro-consumer bills ever passed by Congress.
Bill was 91 when he died last month. I’m glad he lived long enough to see the fruits of his decades-long crusade. When he began his work, generics represented only about 7% of the pharmaceutical market in the U.S. Today, generics account for 90% of all prescriptions dispensed across the country, saving our health system nearly $300 billion annually. Truly, generic medicine has become the backbone of the U.S. health system and the solution to its sustainability.
Thank you, Bill, for never giving in and never giving up.
By Bob Billings. Active in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 25 years, Bob held various positions at the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (now the Association for Accessible Medicines) from 2007 through June 2015, including Interim President and Executive Director.