Report blames gaming of patent system for high drug prices image

Med City News, August 9, 2018
Alaric Dearment, quoting W. Nicholson Price II (Academic Fellow Alumnus)


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[...] The report, “Overpatented, Overpriced: How Excessive Pharmaceutical Patenting is Extending Monopolies and Driving up Drug Prices,” was released last week by the nonprofit Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge, also known as I-MAK. The report found that the 12 highest-grossing drugs in the US had, on average, 38 years of attempted patent protection, even though patent law is designed to give them 20 years. Meanwhile, the prices for those drugs have increased by an average 68 percent.

The practice is known as “evergreening,” and Nicholson Price, an assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan who specializes in innovation in life sciences, said it has been going on for a long time. Evergreening allows drug companies to extend their monopolies and stave off generic competition by obtaining patents to cover new uses for drugs, methods of manufacture and formulations – some of which also require FDA approval, like new clinical uses, while others don’t. “There’s a whole set of complicated games that companies can play with these tactics to extend the patent-protected life of a drug,” he said. [...]

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