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Consumer group says drug companies are abusing the US patent system to keep prices high

Consumer group says drug companies are abusing the US patent system to keep prices high
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by Ahmed Abul-Enein

US makers of best-selling drugs are costing patients billions of dollars and exacerbating the drug-price crisis by abusing the US patent system to stifle competition and inflate prices, a consumer group said Thursday.

The New York-based Initiative for Drugs, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK) said in a report that three of the 10 best-selling drugs in the United States are facing no competition in the country and would cost Americans an estimated $167 billion before they did. That is expected.

“U.S. spending on prescription drugs, which exceeds $400 billion today, is expected to reach nearly $1 trillion by 2030”.

I-MAK said generic versions and cheaper biosimilars from Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:) and Pfizer (NYSE:) the blood-thinning Eliquis, AbbVie’s Humira (NYSE:), and Amgen (NASDAQ :)’s Enbrel, both used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, will be available in Europe for an average of 7.7 years before that . Their expected launch in the United States.

AbbVie, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Drugmakers have used the practice of searching for multiple patents to make subtle changes to a single invention, known as patent forest, to fend off public competition for decades.

โ€œPatent abuse is not limited to a few bad actors. A growing body of evidence shows that an essential part of the pharmaceutical industryโ€™s business model for best-selling drugs is now built on maintaining market control by exploiting an outdated patent system.โ€ . He said.

The report concluded that “pharmaceutical companies secure hundreds of patents to prevent competition because they can.”

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She called on lawmakers and government agencies to end the patent forest and modernize the patent system.

The top-ten selling drug makers in the United States have filed 140 patent applications for each drug, 66% of which are after FDA approval, I-MAK said. An average of 74 patents were granted for each drug, four times the number of patents in Europe.

The Swiss Competition Commission (Comco) on Thursday opened an investigation into Novartis over the possible illegal use of a patent to reduce competitive pressure.

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