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United States : Senator Hassan and Colleagues to Allergan CEO: Monopoly Keeps Price of Drug High, Limits Competition.

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and a group of her colleagues are demanding answers from Allergan CEO Brenton Saunders on the companys recent sale of its Restasis patents to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe a move the Senators say could stifle competition while keeping the cost of the drug high.

We fully support the fundamental protections that sovereign immunity grants tribes and states to protect their own rights and property. However, it is difficult to conceive of Allergans transaction as anything other than a sham to subvert the existing intellectual property system, which Congress established to set forth clear rules and expectations for the ownership and use of intellectual property, said the Senators.

The original patent for Allergans drug Restasis expired in 2014. At that time, Allergan filed six additional patents on the drug, with the intent of extending its exclusivity and keeping competitors out of the market for another decade. Absent any efforts to challenge these patents, they would have expired on August 27, 2024, resulting in a 22-year market monopoly for this product. However, since 2014, a number of generic drug manufacturers have challenged the validity of these six new Restasis patents in order to pave the way for competition. In order to limit these challenges from potential competitors, Allergan sold the patents to the St. Regis Mohawk, a surprising deal designed to stifle competition and perpetuate high prices for consumers.

In a letter to the CEO, U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Al Franken (D-MN) demanded answers about Allergans actions, and whether the sale of the Restatsis patents was an attempt to get around the current intellectual property system for prescription drugs. While a federal district court ruling on October 16, 2017 invalidated four of the six patents at issue, the Senators remain concerned by the actions Allergan took to shield its patents from review and potentially undermine the existing intellectual property system.

Last month, Senator Hassan called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to immediately launch an investigation into Allergans behavior, and recently questioned Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of American representatives during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing about Allergans anti-competitive attempt to shield its patents from review.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Nov 9, 2017
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