Big Pharma is able to price gouge patients and avoid accountability.
For decades, drug makers have gamed the patent system to block out competition and protect their profits – maintaining monopolies and driving up prices without making improvements to the medications patients need most.
Take a look:
Of the 100 best selling drugs, nearly 80 percent have extended their patents at least once, and 50 percent have extended their patents multiple times to block generic competition and maintain their stranglehold on critical medications.
In fact, a recent series of studies conducted by Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge (I-MAK) found that of the top 12 grossing drugs in America, over 125 patent applications were filed and 71 were granted per drug. These patent applications attempted to block generic competition from entering the market by an average of 38 years, nearly double 20-year protection normally intended under U.S. patent laws.
I-MAK also found:
Roughly 100 best-selling drugs between 2005 and 2015 found that, on average, 74 percent of the drugs associated with “new patents” in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) records were not new drugs coming on the market, but rather existing drugs. (CNBC, 6/27/18)
The price of Humira, the world’s top drug by sales, has had its price increased by nearly 100 percent since 2012 from $19,000 to $38,000. Humira producer, AbbVie, has filed 247 patent applications in an effort to delay competition for 39 years. (The New York Times, 1/6/18 & I-MAK, 9/18/18)
Insulin drug Lantus’ makers, Sanofi, have filed 74 patent applications since coming to market in 2000, which aim to extent their market exclusivity to 37 years. That is one and half times the number of patent applications filed for Lantus in the European patent office and three times the number filed in the Japanese office. (I-MAK, 11/1/18)
Autoimmune drug Enbrel’s primary patent ended in 2010, but 57 patent applications have extended its market exclusivity to 2029. Amgen’s patent efforts have led to a 129 percent increase in total Medicare and Medicaid spending between 2012 and 2016 alone, and Medicare spending per person during that time doubled. (I-MAK, 12/3/18)