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United States : McCaskill Continues Push to Hold Drug Companies Accountable with Bipartisan Effort to End Attempts to brazenly exploit Patent System.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is continuing her fight to crack down on high prescription drug prices with a new bipartisan push to close potential loopholes drug manufacturers can exploit to prevent patents from expiring, which prevents cheaper, generic drugs from coming to market.

We watched a company brazenly try to exploit a potential legal loophole to game the system in an effort to protect its bottom lineand keep Missourians from access to cheaper generic drug options in the process, McCaskill said. That should be illegal, and our bipartisan bill would make it so by ending this astounding assertion of sovereign immunity to avoid patent review, before any other companies follow suit.

Last October, McCaskill introduced targeted legislation to protect consumers and close the specific loophole in which Allergan transferred patents on Restasis, a blockbuster eye medicine, to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, which used tribal sovereignty to argue that the patents should not be subject to challenge at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The new bipartisan legislation, which McCaskill introduced with Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and David Perdue of Georgia, would expand on McCaskills legislation and close all other potential loopholes in the patent process that pharmaceutical companies may seek to exploit.

The plan would prevent patent holders from renting sovereign immunity to prevent federal courts, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the International Trade Commission from reviewing disputed patents. In the Restasis example, a drug company paid an Indian tribe to take ownership of its patents, which allowed the tribe to claim sovereign immunity in order to try to avoid review of the patents validity. Although the Patent and Trademark Office rejected the tribes argument of sovereign immunity last month, appeals are likely. If a drug company is successful with this argument, it could lead to widespread patent abuse and increased costs for consumers. The Senators bipartisan legislation will provide the clarity needed in law to end this practice before it becomes more widespread.

McCaskill has made tackling rising healthcare and prescription drug costs in Missouri a top priority in the Senate. Earlier this month, she introduced legislation to end taxpayer subsidies pharmaceutical companies receive for the billions of dollars they spend on prescription drug advertising each year, which currently is fully tax-deductible. And last year McCaskills bipartisan legislation with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine to increase competition for generic drugs and help lower prescription costs was signed into law by President Trump.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Mar 14, 2018
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