By a vote of 16 to 7, the U.S. Senate health committee approved a minimum period of 12 years before generic versions of biotech drugs can be approved. The proposed bill recognizes that biotech medications (also known as biologics) are much more complicated to produce than traditional chemical based pharmaceuticals. The Senate committee rejected a shorter period of five to seven years proposed by generic drug makers in favour of a 12 year period which was felt to "strike an appropriate balance between promoting innovating and providing competition".

While the biotech bill must now to pass a vote on the Senate floor and the House of Representatives is still debating the issue, the committee approval was seen as an important victory for biotech manufacturers such as Amgen Inc. and Roche Holding AG.

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http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN13231081