Feb 13, 2023

Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Bipartisan Legislation Cracking Down on Big Pharma’s Patent Abuse

Last week, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary advanced the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act of 2023 to the full Senate for consideration. The legislation, introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), advances solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable for patent abuse that blocks more affordable alternatives from the market.

During a markup of the legislation, senators emphasized the bipartisan nature of this market-based solution to help lower prescription drug prices for patients and highlighted the urgency to hold Big Pharma accountable for the industry’s anti-competitive practices.

Here is what Senate Judiciary Committee members had to say:

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary: “This kind of bipartisanship on an issue of real meaning to the American people I hope is not missed by the media and our followers. We disagree on things from time to time as you notice, but on some critical issues we come together and work out our differences.”

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX): “I have been a long defender and advocate for intellectual property protection because it does incentivize people to create new life-saving drugs in this instance, and they deserve to protect that investment and they get exclusive rights to sell them for the statutory period of time. But what Senator Blumenthal and I are trying to do here, and what was passed unanimously out of this committee previously, eliminates some of the gamesmanship associated with product hopping and patent thickets as Senator Blumenthal already explained. I hope the committee will pass this bill and get it over the finish line to the President’s desk without further delay.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): “This bill has become more important and necessary than ever before… the objective that we have in reintroducing the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act is very simply to stop some of the abuses with the patent dance and product hopping that have come to light repeatedly – and dramatically.”

“Just a week and a half ago, The New York Times profiled one of the most notorious abuses of the patent system with the anti-inflammatory drug Humira, which its patent expired in 2016. They developed a patent thicket by applying for more than 300 patents and actually received 165 on this single drug, effectively gaming the system to extend its exclusive sales period and earn an extra $114 billion in revenue. That’s billion with a “B,” coming out of consumer pockets. So I think that is just one example of why the urgency of this measure is as pressing and even more so than ever, and I thank the Chair for giving me this opportunity.”

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT): “… Sham petitions and product hopping are all potentially concerning forms of anti-competitive conduct that can harm consumers. And when necessary, Congress should ensure that consumers are protected from these abuses and that our pharmaceutical markets remain competitive.”

Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA): “I want to thank my bipartisan colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, for our collaborative effort to lower prescription drug prices for Georgians and all Americans and urge this committee in the full Senate to pass this legislation so that Americans are not ripped off by drug companies every single day.”

Watch the full U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing HERE.

Read CSRxP’s statement on the advancement of the patent abuse legislation HERE.

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