THE REFILL: Latest Dosage of Rx Patent Abuse

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Despite Big Pharma spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbyists, marketing and “legal-fortress building” as Fortune reported in a must-read piece last month, there is a growing chorus of bipartisan support in Congress for reforming the U.S. patent system.  More and more lawmakers are acknowledging that Big Pharma’s rampant patent abuse plays an outsized role in the drug pricing crisis facing American Patients.

This week, U.S. Representative Tom Reed (R-NY), co-chair of the influential Problem Solvers Caucus, made clear that reining in patent abuse is a priority for that caucus. Reed noted that to lower drug prices, Congress must “Deal with the abuses of patent reform where companies are taking advantage of the patent laws to prevent drugs from coming on to the market.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who has partnered with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) on an important patent reform bill, also urged the White House to consider patent reform in their plan to lower prescription drug prices. Blumenthal noted that any plan “has to be combined with….eliminating the abuses on patents.”

Recognizing Sen. Blumenthal’s efforts to rein in Big Pharma, CAPA Executive Director Matthew Lane penned an op-ed in the CT Mirror, expressing his support for Sens. Blumenthal and Cornyn’s Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act. Lane writes that: “This legislation would address some of the tricks the big drug companies use to exploit loopholes in the U.S. patent process and extend indefinite monopolies on their medications. By gaming the patent system to their advantage, these companies can drive out competition. This anti-competitive behavior keeps drug prices soaring, leaving millions of patients struggling to afford the medicine they need to live.”

WHAT WE SAID:

CAPA Statement: CAPA Applauds House Committee On Oversight And Reform’s Bipartisan Support For Taking On Big Pharma
“As today’s hearing demonstrated, American patients are feeling the repercussions of Big Pharma’s greed with rising prescription drug costs without more affordable generic alternatives. This anti-generic gaming has real human costs. Big Pharma uses a myriad of underhanded tactics to manipulate the patent system and continue expanding their profits. This hearing is further evidence of the need to rein in Big Pharma’s rampant patent abuse. We thank Chairman Cummings and Ranking Member Jordan for holding today’s hearing and continuing to shed a light on Big Pharma’s abuse of the American patent system. Our coalition stands ready to work with the committee to find bipartisan solutions that put American patients first, promote innovation and end Big Pharma’s rampant patent abuse.” 

CAPA Statement: Niskanen Center Joins Coalition Against Patent Abuse
“The Niskanen Center is a welcome addition to our growing and diverse organization of members. We are equally committed to ensuring that all Americans have access to safe and affordable medicine,” said Matthew Lane, Executive Director of CAPA. “We look forward to working with them toward solutions that rein in Big Pharma’s patent abuse and lower prescription drug prices for patients.”

CAPA: Three Things You Should Be Reading Today In The Push For Patent Reform & Lower Drug Price for Patients
“Big Pharma’s rampant abuse of the patent system is a primary cause of rising drug prices nationwide. With American patients paying more than citizens of other developed nations for the same prescription drugs, it is time for Congress to pass legislation that ends Big Pharma’s blatant and underhanded manipulation of our nation’s patent system.” CAPA’s Executive Director Matthew Lane

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE READING:

POLICY PROGRESS

The Hill: Cummings Plans To Call Pharma Executives To Testify About Drug Costs
Nathaniel Weixel 
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he plans to call drug company executives to testify when the House returns from recess in September. Cummings made the announcement at the end of an emotional hearing Friday about the impact of high drug costs on patients.

San Antonio Express News (San Antonio, TX): Cornyn And GOP Senators Push To Bring Down Prescription Drug Costs
Bill Lambrecht
Cornyn this spring introduced his Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act, which takes aim at alleged pharmaceutical company abuses, including the practice of “product-hopping” – moving customers from one formulation of a branded drug to another with a longer patent life in order to block the arrival of cheaper generic versions.

STAT News Op-Ed: Patent Reform Is Needed To Protect Patients’ Access To Lifesaving Drugs
Lyrissa Lidsky
It’s no secret that the cost of prescription drugs is too high for many Americans to afford. Across the country, patients are struggling to access medicines they desperately need. In fact, we are charged, on average, significantly more than residents of other high-income countries for the same prescription drugs. These high prices are due in no small part to the ability of pharmaceutical companies to protect sometimes decades-long monopolies on their products. It’s past time for patent reform. The painful reality that so many Americans experience was brought home to me this year by my own bout with breast cancer.

Inside Health Policy: McKinley Introduces Bill To Prevent Patent Gaming, Boost Generic Market
Beth Wang
McKinley’s Reforming Ever-greening and Manipulation that Extends Drug Years (REMEDY) Act, which is a companion to Sen. Bill Cassidy’s (R-LA) REMEDY Act, would amend the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act so that the brand-drug maker’s patent infringement claim can only hold up the generic drug’s approval if it relates to a patent claim on a drug substance, or a drug substance in addition to the drug product or method of use. The patent infringement would not apply if the claim is only for a drug product or method of use alone. “For too long drug companies have used the patent system to discourage competition and reap profits,” McKinley said in a press release Thursday (July 18). “The REMEDY Act will save consumers billions of dollars by increasing competition. Families should never have to decide between affording their medications and grocery shopping or filling up their gas tanks.”

ABOUT COALITION AGAINST PATENT ABUSE (CAPA)

The Coalition Against Patent Abuse are healthcare providers, consumer groups, patient advocacy organizations, free market advocates, employers, and others fighting abuses of the patent system that can extend government-granted monopolies that illegitimately keep drug prices high for years, or even decades. Our members include the following groups and organizations: America’s Health Insurance Plans, Association for Accessible Medicines, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, Citizen Outreach, Consumer Action, Innovation Defense Fund, Institute for Liberty, Kaiser Permanente, Knowledge Ecology International, Lincoln Network, R Street Institute, Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics, The Niskanen Center and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.