US President Barack Obama has issued rules to boost competition in the biotech drug market as part of his 2012 budget proposal, released yesterday.

Brand-name drug manufacturers will now be allowed seven years of market exclusivity before generic versions of biologic products can be sold in the US, instead of 12 years, as originally stated in the proposal.

In a statement released after this announcement. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association President and CEO Mark Merritt said, “We applaud the President’s effort to finally make expensive biotech medications subject to the same kind of competition that other brand-name drugs have faced for almost three decades. This reform would save billions for consumers and taxpayers while making life-saving medications more affordable for everyone.

“While we still agree with the Federal Trade Commission’s claim that not even one year of market exclusivity is needed to protect the incentives to innovate, the President is right to insist that biotech medications face generic competition in seven years instead of 12,” Merritt added.

Obama’s budget proposal envisages total spending of $3.73tn in the 2012 budget year, of which 12.8% will be spent on medicare.

The proposed budget is seen as an opening bid in a long process of negotiation with the house and senate leaders of both parties, and Republicans will press for deeper cuts, reports BBC News.