CAPA Statement on AbbVie’s CEO Testifying Before Congress on Use of Anti-Competitive Tactics that Keep Drug Prices High

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Coalition Against Patent Abuse (CAPA) released the following statement today after the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing entitled, “Unsustainable Drug Prices (Part III): Testimony from AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez,” that focuses on the company’s anti-competitive tactics and pricing strategies that keeps drug prices high for the American healthcare system and millions of patients:  

“CAPA applauds the Committee for its continued oversight on specific anti-competitive tactics that some big drug companies have engaged in over recent years.  This patent gamesmanship has contributed directly to the high prices that millions of Americans grapple with every day,” CAPA Executive Director Matthew Lane said today.  “Companies like AbbVie abuse and manipulate the U.S. patent system to keep competition out and drug prices high.  As lawmakers are learning throughout these hearings, AbbVie is just one of many examples where certain companies have engaged in underhanded tactics to retain their monopolies and overcharge patients as well as the U.S. government.  It is imperative that we balance innovation with competition while putting patients first which is why Congress needs to pass long overdue reforms to the U.S. patent system.” 

BACKGROUND:

With millions of Americans struggling with high drug prices and the U.S. government facing a record debt, it’s more important than ever for Congress to address the root causes of this problem which includes systemic abuses of U.S. patent laws.  Some Big Pharma companies routinely make use of underhanded tactics like patent thickets and product hopping to extend their drug monopolies and prevent American patients from accessing more affordable generic drug and treatment alternatives.  

AbbVie is one of the most egregious actors in this area.  The company has filed over 240 patent applicationsfor a single drug, Humira, and received over 110 granted patents.  This patent thicket has allowed AbbVie to keep competition out of the marketplace while other countries have had access to more affordable biosimilars.  In Europe and elsewhere around the world, people who have been prescribed Humira have the option of paying up to 80 percent less than we do in the United States by purchasing a generic version. 

report by I-MAK showed how AbbVie could have its patents on cancer drug Imbruvica extended through 2036, forcing consumers to spend an additional $41 billion for the cancer treatment drug.  This move would prevent cheaper generic alternatives from entering the market for almost another 10 more years.