Pay-For-Delay Agreements Again Show How Pharma Abuses Patent Law To Harm Us All

from the this-helps-who-exactly? dept

We've discussed in the past how pharmaceutical patents actually tend to slow down the development of better healthcare solutions, and earlier this year, we mentioned how the EU was growing increasingly concerned about how patent holders were abusing their patents to try to prevent generic competitors from entering the market. Recently, US FTC officials have noticed the same thing and are trying to do something about it -- but are facing tremendous (well organized and well financed) pushback from pharmaceutical lobbyists (the kind who are able to get more than 40 Congressional reps, on both sides of the aisle, to repeat talking points into the Congressional record with no shame).

At issue is the fact that the big pharma firms are paying off generic drug makers to keep them from entering the market -- which in any other market would be a clear anti-competitive activity. How do patents fit into the equation? Well, the big pharma companies are suing the generics for patent infringement, but know they don't have any legal leg to stand on. The filing of the lawsuit is basically just a negotiating ploy, bringing the generic manufacturer to the table. If there were actual infringement, then the generic maker could be barred or would have to pay up. Instead, the money flows the other way. The two parties settle in a "pay for delay" pact, whereby the patent holder pays off the generic maker to stay out of the market, even if there's no real infringement. This basically grants the patent holder extra monopoly time on a drug, which can be worth billions, but makes drugs significantly more expensive for everyone.

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  1. identicon
    hegemon13, 7 Dec 2009 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re: Big pharma is a business.

    Having 5 members in my family with celiac, I can say that it is more a matter of physician stubbornness and lack of knowledge than anything. The fact is that up until the last ten to fifteen years, the "common wisdom" was the celiac was extremely rare and overdiagnosed. As it turned out, it is actually fairly common and underdiagnosed. It used to take an intestinal biopsy to diagnose. Now it just requires blood test and a gluten fast.

    However, a lot of older doctors, or doctors who have not updated their knowledge on the subject, still work under the old mindset of resisting the diagnosis of celiac. They try all sorts of other things first. To be fair though, IBS is a lot more common than celiacs, and it does make sense to rule that out. Still, with the simplicity of a current celiac tests, it should be tested with less resistance.

    What I am saying is that I don't think undiagnosed celiac should be attributed to drug pushing as much as the slowness with which many doctors accept new ideas and findings.

    "And it's not *just* congress that they're paying off....They often pay off doctors to push their drugs even though there are better treatments available."

    This has actually tapered off quite a bit. The kind of extreme perks they used to offer to doctors have been dialed down by federal and state regulations (in the US at least).

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