Lawmakers Can Highlight Tactics Designed to Block More Affordable Alternatives from the Market — Add to Momentum for Market-Based Solutions 

In Washington this week, Congress will hold a pair of hearings on the patent system, offering an opportunity for lawmakers to detail Big Pharma’s anti-competitive practices that drive higher prescription drug prices and add to the momentum for action on market-based solutions to hold brand name drug companies accountable. On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property will hold a hearing examining, “The Patent Trial and Appeal Board: Examining Proposals to Address Predictability, Certainty, and Fairness.” On Thursday, the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet will hold a hearing on, “The Patent Trial and Appeal Board After 10 Years: Impact on Innovation and Small Businesses.”

Ahead of the hearings, get a Dose of Reality on Big Pharma’s egregious practices designed to game the system to maintain monopolies, undermine more affordable alternatives and boost profits by keeping drug prices high.


Big Pharma has a long history of price gouging American patients through patent abuse schemes, like patent thicketing and product hopping, to hinder generic competition and maintain monopolies over their biggest money makers.

Targeting Blockbuster Products for Patent Abuse

A May 2022 study published in JAMA Health Forum found brand name drug companies target products that generate major profits for reformulation to extend monopoly pricing power and block generic competition from entering the market.

Patent Abuse Delays Access to Lower Cost Treatments 

A 2021 report from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform found that companies responsible for just 12 of the best-selling drugs in Medicare obtained more than 600 patents, effectively blocking competition from more affordable alternatives for decades.

Big Pharma’s Patent Gaming Imposes Unsustainable Costs

Big Pharma’s anti-competitive behavior, including tactics like product hopping and patent-thicketing, delay more affordable alternatives from coming to market and cost patients and our health care system billions of dollars. The American public faces unsustainable costs because of this anti-competitive behavior.

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.

A Case Study: Brand Name Inhalers

An academic analysis published in Health Affairs in May 2022 found manufacturers of brand name inhalers used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease engage in anti-competitive tactics to keep more affordable generic competition from entering the market.

A Call for Action: NYT Editorial Board Endorses Patent Reforms

A recent editorial from The New York Times highlights how Big Pharma games the system to keep drug prices high and calls for reforms to increase competition and help lower drug prices for the American people.

The editorial board notes that Big Pharma relies on bogus rhetoric to oppose drug pricing solutions and highlights how the industry’s egregious practices are driving higher costs, saying, “drugmakers for decades have argued that patents are essential to American innovation. For all that lip service to medical advancement, though, a recent investigation by the House Oversight Committee concluded that market share is more likely the point. Twelve of the drugs that Medicare spends the most on are protected by more than 600 patents in total, according to the committee. Many of those patents contain little that’s truly new. But the thickets they create have the potential to extend product monopolies for decades. In so doing, they promise to add billions to the nation’s soaring health care costs — and to pharmaceutical coffers.”

The editorial board also highlights the staggering number of patents granted for existing drugs, “nearly 80 percent of the drugs associated with new patents between 2005 and 2015 were not new.”

Endorsing solutions to promote competition, the editorial board argues policymakers should “enforce existing standards… set a high standard for what deserves patent protection in the first place and then to honor it… improve the process for challenging bad patents… eliminate potential conflicts of interest… collaborate with other agencies… [and] let the public participate.”

Learn More About Cracking Down on Big Pharma’s Anti-Competitive Tactics

In case you missed it, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division recently hosted a two-day virtual workshop on enforcing antitrust laws in the pharmaceutical industry. The workshop brought together administration officials, state attorneys general staff, and international enforcement partners to address Big Pharma’s anti-competitive behavior, as well as concerns about pharmaceutical mergers and acquisitions. Read more on what experts and officials had to say at the workshop HERE.

Read more about how Big Pharma’s patent abuse blocks competition, harms consumers and contributes to ballooning taxpayer spending HERE.

Read more on why Big Pharma’s tired argument that innovation justifies their out-of-control prices doesn’t hold up to scrutiny HERE.

Read more on market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable and lower prescription drug prices HERE.

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