Drugs & Devices
Price Control Legislation for Generic Drugs – A Delaware Case Study Andrew Thompson Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2023 Earlier, I wrote here about how American drug prices are approximately 256 to 344 percent higher than prices in OCED member markets. Federal legislators confronting patent extensions, pay-for-delay agreements, and other tools …
Recently, whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a Senate subcommittee that Facebook has been deliberately putting its own profits before users’ safety. As Facebook’s former product manager for civic misinformation, Haugen calls for federal regulation of social media platforms and asserts that Facebook will not solve what she calls a “crisis” of deliberately ignoring users’ wellbeing for the sake of its own profits without Congress’s help. She points to tobacco, automobiles, and opioids, stating that when it became clear that those products were harming people, the government took action.
Recently, pharmaceutical companies are gaining increased notoriety for violations of the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, and general fraudulent practices directed toward physicians and medical care providers with the intent to increase profits. In 2019, Avanir Pharmaceuticals settled with the Department of Justice to pay more than $108 million of criminal penalties and civil damages for engaging in kickbacks with physicians, and misleading marketing of their drug Nudexta for unapproved purposes. Then, in May of 2021, Incyte Corp., a Delaware-based pharmaceutical manufacturer agreed to pay $12.6 million for unspecified damages arising under a violation of the Federal False Claims Act for improperly using an independent foundation to cover copays of individuals consuming Incyte’s cancer drug, Jakafi. Despite widespread prosecutions against pharmaceutical drug manufacturers, and the fraud deterrent provisions of the False Claims Act, the risk of fraud and remuneration still runs high in relationships between healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has partnered with the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to address the high cost of prescription drugs. While the FDA possesses the authority to approve generic, lower cost drugs, the USPTO has an important and symbiotic role in bringing affordable drugs to market by blocking anti-competitive patent extensions. FDA-USPTO collaboration has gained congressional support and is the subject of key pieces of new legislation.
For the first time in about twenty years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug to combat the progression of Alzheimer’s. The newly approved drug is manufactured by Biogen and will be called Aduhelm. The FDA granted fast track designation of the drug to speed up access to patients. While Aduhelm will not reverse already developed Alzheimer’s symptoms, it will slow down the advancement of the disease by removing deposits of beta-amyloid, a protein found in early-stage Alzheimer’s patient’s brains.
As you read this, you’re most likely using a phone or laptop that carries a few patents. A patent is awarded to a person or company in order to protect their intellectual property. Protection of intellectual property rests on the idea that one should be compensated for the time and effort required to produce the patented medium, while others should not be able to profit from the work of another. The patents awarded to your phone or laptop manufacturer allow them recoup research and development expenses and remain competitive against competition. However, the patent system can be abused through patent evergreening and patent thicketing. Evergreening is the practice of obtaining a secondary patent on a slightly modified version of the original patented medium. Thicketing protects the patented medium by creating a web of overlapping or interdependent patents. Recent legislation aims to empower the FDA to decline patent extensions when the slightly modified version of a drug does not yield a clinical benefit.
As of April 22, 2021, 218,947,643 million people have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Before or during the appointment, your provider directs you to a fact sheet for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. On the fact sheet, there were a couple of sentences that caught my eye “The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is a vaccine and may prevent you from getting COVID-19. There is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.” When I read this, I wanted more information about the difference is between being authorized or approved. Like many people, one can become hesitant when a product is not adequately tested; in fact, a Kaiser research project shows about 30% of people probably or definitely not get the vaccine.
Recently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) announced a scheduled meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (“VRBPAC”) to discuss the request for emergency use authorization (“EUA”) for a COVID-19 vaccine from Janssen Biotech Inc. The FDA has just under three weeks to complete its report before the VRBPAC’s meeting to make its recommendation on the vaccine. The review process may be more challenging than the past two reviews for Pfizer and Moderna due to the composition differences and effectiveness.
The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) is one regulatory agency that has been on the forefront of the American fight against COVID-19. Historically, the agency has been highly respected for its success in apolitical operation despite its mission of (1) protecting the public health and (2) innovating in the development of medical products. One of its most important tools in the face of a public health crisis is the once obscure regulatory mechanism called the Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”). But as public trust in the FDA falters, Americans are surely wondering how effective a protective measure can be when it seems to be used as political ammo.
Prescription medications are one of the most common forms of health care intervention, with approximately sixty-six percent (66%) of adults in the United States using prescription drugs. Prescription drugs can provide major benefits to an individual as well as the general population’s health; if successful, prescription drugs can lead to longer and higher-quality lives. However, as drug prices rise unnecessarily, nearly a fourth of American patients experience difficulty affording their medications. A majority of these patients are people with lower incomes and those who are nearing Medicare age.
The United States has higher drug prices than all other developed nations, where in 2010 the average post-rebate medication price was fifteen percent (15%) higher in the United States than in Canada, France, and Germany. Domestic drug companies argue that the price is due to the cost of research and development, however it is the lack of market regulation by the United States government that allows these exorbitant prices. In response to the outcry against high drug prices, on September 13, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Lowering Drug Prices by Putting America First. The Order includes a “most favored nations” pricing scheme that includes both Medicare Parts B and D, meaning that Medicare now is able to refuse to pay more for drugs than other developed nations. However, this is not enough. The United States needs to take action at both the state and federal level to ensure that prescription drugs are accessible and affordable to all Americans.