Part II: Gaming the System to Undermine Competition at the Expense of American Patients

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 58 million Americans struggled to afford their prescription drugs. Now, the ongoing economic impact of the public health crisis continues to leave millions of American workers, families and seniors struggling just to stay afloat. Meanwhile, prescription drug prices continue to rise, due to continued bad behavior from Big Pharma – making it even harder for American patients to afford their medications.

From engaging in price hikes during a pandemic and angling to price-gouge Americans on COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, while receiving billions of dollars from taxpayers, to escalating its assault on the critical 340B program and purposefully blocking competition and engaging in kick-back schemes, Big Pharma continues to place profits over people.

On top of this year of bad behavior, Big Pharma can be expected to maintain an annual tradition of ringing in the New Year with a fresh round of price hikes beginning on January 1. In the countdown to these New Year pandemic price hikes from Big Pharma, this blog series will outline the egregious actions of the industry over the past year, as a reminder, that policymakers in Washington must act to hold drug companies accountable. 

Yesterday, we explored Big Pharma’s price-hiking “business-as-usual” during the pandemic. Today, we’re taking a look at how Big Pharma has continued to game the system to undermine competition in order to keep prices high.


Engaging in anti-competitive tactics to maintain product monopolies, long-beyond reasonable periods of exclusivity, is a time-honored tradition for Big Pharma. Pharmaceutical companies abuse the system by deploying a host of anti-competitive tactics – including ploys like co-pay coupons, ‘charitable’ kickback schemes and patent abuse – to prevent patients from accessing more affordable alternatives — often for decades:

Big Pharma’s Biologic Patent Abuse

As prices continue to climb, a September 2020 study from Avik Roy and Gregg Girvan of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP) found that ballooning spending on U.S. prescription drugs is being particularly driven by Big Pharma’s abuse of the patent system to undermine biologic and biosimilar competition.

The report, “The Growing Power of Biotech Monopolies Threatens Affordable Care,” finds that despite representing less than one percent of U.S. prescriptions, biologic drugs account for nearly half of all drug spending. That’s because biologics face less competition from their generic equivalents, known as biosimilars, due to differences in how the marketplace is regulated and how Big Pharma games the system to undermine competition. Without action, the study’s authors estimate the anti-competitive nature of the biologic drug marketplace will cost American patients more than $30 billion from 2015-2029.

Meanwhile, A Recent Report From The House Committee On Oversight And Reform Details “The Specific Tactics Drug Companies Are Using To Raise Prices, Maximize Profits, And Suppress Competition Among Other Companies.”

Stay tuned this week as we continue to expose Big Pharma’s Year of Bad Behavior.

CLICK HERE to read: “Dose Of Reality” Big Pharma’s Year of Bad Behavior Part I: Sticking with Price-Hiking “Business as Usual” During Pandemic.

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