Debra Barrett, Executive Director of the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs, released the following statement today on legislation introduced by Senators John Cornyn and Richard Blumenthal to empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take enforcement action against drug companies’ anticompetitive practices:
“Drug companies have been gaming our patent system for too long – prolonging monopolies and supporting unsustainable prices. This misuse has cost patients, payers and taxpayers billions of dollars every year and distorts the powerful intent of patents to incentivize and reward meaningful innovation. CAPD welcomes the introduction of the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act by Senators Cornyn and Blumenthal to empower the FTC to take action against abuses like product hopping and patent thickets which delay timely competition from more affordable alternatives. These efforts will help ensure that the patent system appropriately incentivizes innovation and permits timely competition which will support access to the medicine Americans need at a price they can afford. We look forward to continuing to work with policy makers on specific solutions to make prescription drugs more affordable.”
Today, the twelve top-selling drugs in America have an average of 125 patent applications filed, and 71 patents granted, per drug. For these drugs alone, manufacturers have sought 38 years of monopoly protection to block competition — nearly twice the 20-year period granted to a patent under U.S. law. And the result has been a 68% increase in prices since 2012 — because there’s no competition, and won’t be for decades.
Studies have shown that patent evergreening – the result of tactics like product hopping and thickets – cost state Medicaid programs $9.4 billion in higher drug costs from 2008 to 2016. Another study estimated that patients may pay as much as $3 billion in higher drug costs because of patent evergreening on one cancer drug alone.