New White Paper Identifies Patent Thickets as Barrier to US Biosimilars Market and Domestic Manufacturing

Alex Brill and Christy Robinson | Washington, DC

The white paper offers policy options to improve access to affordable biosimilar medicines.  

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 24, 2021—Matrix Global Advisors (MGA), an economic policy consulting firm, released a white paper on the barriers patent thickets pose to patient access to affordable biosimilars in the US. “How Patent Thickets Constrain the US Biosimilars Market and Domestic Manufacturing,” authored by Alex Brill and Christy Robinson, explains how reference biologic manufacturers create thickets of overlapping, weaker follow-on patents to keep competitors from entering the market. The paper highlights how originators have strong incentives to protect their profit streams and have found patent thickets to be an easy way to significantly extend the duration of monopolies in the US, preventing access to more affordable medicines for patients.

“Patents are an essential tool in protecting and incentivizing inventors and innovators. But misuse of the patent system, including the creation of patent thickets, leads to costly and inefficient drug monopolies. The goal of this white paper is to raise awareness about the ways patent thickets negatively impact patients, biosimilar manufacturers, and payors,” said Alex Brill, coauthor of the white paper and CEO of MGA.

In the white paper, Brill and Robinson discuss:

  • How originators construct patent thickets
  • The lost savings attributable to patent thickets in the US
  • Factors contributing to patent thickets
  • How patent thickets impede domestic manufacturing of biosimilars
  • Policy options to address patent thickets

The white paper points out that policy proposals to bring down drug prices focus on the symptoms of a larger problem—that is, patent thickets—instead of the problem itself. The authors explain the role patent thickets play in the inability of manufacturers to bring new biosimilars to market in the years ahead.

“Policymakers must understand that, unless patent thickets are dramatically curtailed, the problem is only going to get worse. Patent thickets have consequences not only for drug prices, but also for domestic manufacturing because patent thickets discourage investment in US biosimilar manufacturing capacity,” said coauthor and principal at MGA, Christy Robinson.

To download a free copy of the white paper, click here.

This report was underwritten by Fresenius Kabi, a global healthcare company.


About MGA

Matrix Global Advisors (MGA) is a boutique economic consulting firm in Washington, DC, specializing in healthcare, tax, and fiscal policy. Drawing on years of policy experience, the MGA team uses analytics to help identify, quantify, and solve economic policy problems. On behalf of clients, we conduct original data analysis, construct economic models, conduct research, write white papers and expert reports, and offer strategic advice.

Through the use of analytical tools and knowledge of the political and legislative process, MGA helps clients navigate legislative and regulatory proposals, craft policy reforms, and measure their own businesses’ economic footprints. Whether it’s Congress, the White House, an executive department, or a regulatory agency, policymakers need to know the economics of an issue. With a thorough knowledge of the policymaking process and our tested economic know-how, MGA helps clients navigate Washington.