For example, AbbVie Inc.’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira is the world’s best-selling prescription drug in the world, with over $16 billion in U.S. sales per year.
Humira was approved in 2002, and it now makes more money annually than all of the NFL teams, combined. According to AbbVie’s CEO, the drug company has created a “patent estate” around the drug. Its initial patent would have expired in 2016, but within the three years before that, the company applied for and obtained over 75 patents that would extend its monopoly to 2034 – and keep this enormously expensive treatment inaccessible to many patients, while burdening the healthcare system as a whole.
“Over Humira’s lifetime, AbbVie has secured more than 100 patents to prevent anyone from attempting to copy the biologic, with $16 billion in annual sales.”
Pharma’s current strategies to maintain perpetual monopolies exploit weaknesses in the patent system’s police force to shield patents from attacks on patent quality and to extend their term artificially. They also further exploit chokepoints in the regulatory review process to make it harder for the FDA to approve market entry of generic and biosimilar drugs in a timely manner. View other Case Studies