STATEMENT: Patients For Affordable Drugs Now Applauds Judiciary Committee For Advancing Bipartisan Bills To Crack Down On Big Pharma Patent Abuse
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement was issued by Sarah Kaminer Bourland, the legislative director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, following the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of four bills that would crack down on the drug industry’s patent abuses and promote competition in the pharmaceutical market:
“Drug companies are abusing our patent system to protect their profits and extend monopolies beyond what the law intended. These anti-competitive tactics undermine innovation and force patients to pay higher prices for longer periods of time.
“While Medicare negotiation is the cornerstone of comprehensive drug pricing reform, we applaud the House Judiciary Committee for advancing these bipartisan bills that are critical to restoring balance in our system and curbing practices such as product hopping, pay-for-delay deals, frivolous citizen petitions, and patent thicketing. Patients deserve both Medicare negotiation and patent reform, and we look forward to making sure they’re passed into law this year.”
Today, the House Judiciary Committee completed its markup and voted the following bipartisan bills favorably out of committee:
Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Through Promoting Competition Act of 2021 (H.R. 2873), led by Reps. Cicilline (D-RI), Buck (R-CO), Nadler (D-NY), and Maloney (D-NY), prohibits product hopping.
Stop Stalling Access to Affordable Medications Act (H.R. 2883), led by Reps. Jeffries (D-NY), Buck (R-CO), Nadler (D-NY), Cicilline (D-RI), and Maloney (D-NY), bans pharmaceutical companies from submitting sham citizen petitions to the FDA to delay the approval of generic competitors. The Senate companion bill, S. 1425, was unanimously voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in July.
Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Through Improvements to Patent Litigation Act (H.R. 2884), led by Reps. Johnson (D-GA) and Issa (R-CA), streamlines the process for biosimilar approval and disincentives patent thickets by the manufacturers of expensive biologic drugs.
Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act (H.R. 2891), led by Reps. Nadler (D-NY), Buck (R-CO), Cicilline (D-RI), and Maloney (D-NY), bans anticompetitive pay-for-delay deals that impede introduction of affordable generics. The Senate companion bill, S. 1428, was unanimously voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in July.
This markup follows the House Ways and Means Committee’s recent voteto advance H.R. 3, a comprehensive bill that allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices, as part of the reconciliation package. The Senate Finance Committee is also currently drafting legislation that will allow Medicare to negotiate, which would deliver on the president’s Build Back Better plan under rules of reconciliation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement was issued by David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, in response to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan, unanimous passage of a package of four bills that would lower drug prices and promote innovation by curbing anticompetitive behavior by pharmaceutical corporations:
“We applaud Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for passing legislation to crack down on anticompetitive drug industry practices and strengthen incentives for true biomedical innovation. This package of bills takes important steps to address abuses of our patent system that inhibit innovation, block competition, and allow drug corporations to raise prices without restraint.
“Today’s unanimous vote also lends important momentum to the larger work in Congress to fix our broken drug pricing system. We will continue to work with Congress this year to enact other needed reforms, including allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for all Americans.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee markup took place this morning. Watch the video recording here. The package of bills will next move to the full Senate for a vote.
The legislative package includes the following bills:
S. 1435, Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act of 2021, would amend the Federal Trade Commission Act to define product hopping as anticompetitive and facilitate biosimilar market entry by disincentivizing patent thicketing behavior by biologic drug makers.
S. 1425, Stop STALLING Act, would eliminate drug company abuse of the Food and Drug Administration’s citizen petition program by deeming submission of sham petitions as anticompetitive under the FTC Act and giving the FTC authority to penalize companies engaged in this behavior.
S. 1428, Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act, would crack down on collusive pay-for-delay settlements by making them presumptively anticompetitive, a reform that would stop brand-name companies from artificially lengthening monopoly periods in an effort to keep more affordable alternatives away from consumers.
S. 1388, Prescription Pricing for the People Act of 2021, would require the FTC to examine the effects of consolidation on pricing and other potentially abusive behavior within the pharmacy benefit manager industry.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In light of today’s news that Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a groundbreaking bipartisan bill that would outlaw two tactics Big Pharma wields to maintain monopoly pricing power, David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, issued the following statement:
“Drug corporations have run amok — abusing our patent system and leaving Americans bankrupt and sick. Two egregious tactics they use to maintain high prices are patent thickets and product hopping. Drug companies file scores of patents in an effort to thwart generic competition, or they bring a new drug to market with small, inconsequential differences in order to prevent a competitor from entering at a lower price. These tactics block free-market competition and keep drug prices high.
“We wholeheartedly endorse the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act, and we applaud the work of Senators Cornyn and Blumenthal. This bill will speed generic drugs to market without hurting innovation.
“Momentum is building as Republicans and Democrats collaborate to fix our broken system. We look forward to working in support of this legislation, and we hope today’s bill will be included in any upcoming package of reforms.”
Patent thickets: Brand drug companies often file dozens of new patents on old drugs in order to force a generic company to file suit against each of them, delaying a generic competitor from coming to market. Between 2005 and 2015, at least 74 percent of the new drug patents issued were for existing drugs already on the market. The world’s top-selling drug, Humira, raked in $19.9 billion in sales last year — that’s more revenue last year than every NFL teamcombined.
Those patents are currently blocking a competitor in the U.S. until 2023, which represents a 21-year monopoly for the drug first approved in 2002.
AbbVie doubled the price from about $19,000 per year to $38,000 per year for patients in the U.S.
In response to cheaper competition, the company cut the price in Europe by 80 percent for the exact same drug and is still not losing money.
Product Hopping: Product hopping occurs when a brand name drug manufacturer transfers patients taking its medications from one of its drugs to another drug with small, inconsequential differences in order to extend its patent life and market exclusivity.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Patients For Affordable Drugs founder David Mitchell will tell his story of living with incurable blood cancer and will debunk Big Pharma’s claim that patients won’t get innovative drugs without paying high prices at a 10:00 AM hearing today on rising drug prices.
Mitchell’s testimony will highlight stories of patients skipping doses and going into debt to afford rising prescription drug prices. And he’ll focus on the fact that right now, nearly 1 in 3 adults report not taking their medicines as prescribed because of the cost. He’ll also discuss three legislative solutions to fix our broken system:
Reforming our patent laws
Ending the days of monopoly pricing power without taxpayer negotiations
Forcing transparency from drug middlemen.
Key Points From Mitchell’s Testimony:
“Why do drug companies charge so much? Because they can. Yes, drug companies should profit when they develop innovative drugs. But we are way out of balance, and it’s costing us all—in our family finances, health outcomes, and lives.”
“We heard from one patient who has sold her furniture, maxed out credit cards, and is skipping doses to afford Revlimid.”
“Pharma wants us to ask this question: ‘What are we willing to pay to save a life?’ And that’s easy. When it’s your child’s lungs on the line, when it’s your wife’s diabetes, your husband’s cancer, the answer is ‘anything.’ But that’s the wrong question. We should be asking: ‘What is the right amount of money that drug companies should make on these drugs?’”
Patients For Affordable Drugs is a national patient organization focused exclusively on policies to lower prescription drug prices. We amplify the voices of Americans struggling under crushing drug prices to make policymakers and elected officials see the heavy toll of high-priced drugs. Patients For Affordable Drugs does not accept contributions from any organizations that profit from the development or distribution of prescription drugs.