Bipartisan Senate Bill Aims to Curb Drug Patent Abuse
John Commins | HealthLeaders Media
“A 2020 analysis by Matrix Global Advisors examined five branded drugs and estimated that product hopping – a tactic used by drug makers to “hop” patient onto a newer, slightly reformulated drug as a patent is about to expire – added $4.7 billion to annual U.S. healthcare expenditures.
The patent dance, under current law, places no limits on the number of patents that a branded biologics maker can claim – abusing laws enacted by Congress in 2010 intended to ease biosimilar entry.
The Cornyn-Blumenthal bill “places a reasonable limit” on the number of patents a manufacturer can contest, preventing a “patent thicket” designed to entangle and trip up the launch of cheaper alternatives.
The senators say their bill will deter brand biologics from “gaming the system”, while preserving incentives in the patent system to encourage innovation.
Bad faith exploitation of drug patents has gotten renewed media attention of late as consumers struggle with the continued and relentless growth of healthcare costs.
In a lengthy report this week, The New York Times detailed schemes that drug maker AbbieVie used to “game” the patent system and delay for years the release of generic alternatives to its golden goose arthritis treatment Humira, all of which resulted in $114 billion in additional profits for the drug maker.”