Among the many, many nasty things done in the name of patent law is the rather disgusting practices of "pay-for-delay"
, where a big pharma firm sues a generic pharma maker for patent infringement, with no legal basis, and part of the "settlement" that is then worked out is that the big pharma will pay off the generic pharma not to enter the market with a generic for a certain period of time. Basically, it's a (by definition and government support) monopoly player in the market paying off competitors to keep the market exclusive. It's difficult to see how that's not a blatant violation of anti-trust law. But, alas, apparently the Second Circuit doesn't see it that way. In April it tossed out a lawsuit
over this issue, because the pharma companies involved put in a few worthless other things into the deal that acted as "cover" for the real anti-competitive move -- and, since the "monopoly" was from a patent, the court didn't see it as an anti-trust issue.
So, basically, even beyond the basics of patent law, non-infringing generics are being kept out of the market through what certainly seems like it should be blatant anti-trust practices. The generic pharma asked the entire Second Circuit to rehear the case, especially since the original three-judge panel had expressed some concerns over its own ruling, and even thought that the case might benefit from a full panel review. And yet... that's not going to happen. Joe Mullin
points us to the news that the court has rejected the request for an en banc (full panel) rehearing of the case
It did this despite the fact that the Justice Department, the American Medical Association and 34 state attorneys general all filed briefs in support of an en banc rehearing. And, then there's the FTC which is against these kinds of deals as well, and claims that they've cost consumers over $3.5 billion per year, and that number is rapidly growing each year. Of course, with all that firepower against such blatantly anti-competitive deals that make it more expensive to get important drugs, you'd think that perhaps a law change would be in order. No such luck. While the big health care reform bill that was passed earlier this year at one time had a provision outlawing such pay-for-delay scams, it got dropped
from the bill along the way.