A recent op-ed spoke to the need for bipartisan solutions to lower drug prices (“Double jeopardy on patents discourages drug innovation,” Web, Jan. 2). But under the banner of “protecting drug innovation,” it conflates two distinct processes: the role of drug patents under the Hatch-Waxman Act and a newer process created by Congress to clear the system of flimsy, improperly issued patents (known as IPR, or inter partes reviews). This patent obfuscation and defense of every single drug patent — even weak ones — at all costs is one big reason American consumers pay the highest drug prices on the planet.
The most effective way to reduce drug prices is by spurring more competition. Sadly, big pharma invests heavily in blocking competition and abusing the patent system to continue charging any price they want. In fact, drug makers are ringing in 2019 by raising the price of hundreds of drugs already on the market. That’s not innovation. That’s price gouging.
The IPR process — which applies to all industries, not just pharma — provides an efficient and effective pathway to challenge and clear away patents that should never have been granted. One of the drugs subject to IPR generated $4 million a day in sales. Clearing away an illegitimate patent to allow for legitimate generic competitors will mean huge savings for consumers.
We all want and need real drug innovation. Big pharma needs to innovate by developing more effective therapies at a lower cost and focusing less energy on building patent fortresses to protect their monopolies. That’s the real innovation Americans need.
President and CEO