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posted by LaminatorX on Sunday December 14 2014, @08:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the good-drugs dept.

Andrew Pollack reports at the NYT that a federal judge has blocked an attempt by the drug company Actavis to halt sales of an older form of its Alzheimer’s disease drug Namenda in favor of a newer version with a longer patent life after New York’s attorney general filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing the drug company of forcing patients to switch to the newer version of the widely used medicine to hinder competition from generic manufacturers. “Today’s decision prevents Actavis from pursuing its scheme to block competition and maintain its high drug prices,” says Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. “Our lawsuit against Actavis sends a clear message: Drug companies cannot illegally prioritize profits over patients.” The case involves a practice called product hopping where brand name manufacturers (“product hoppers”) make a slight alteration to their prescription drug (PDF) and engage in marketing efforts to shift consumers from the old version to the new to insulate the drug company from generic competition for several years. For its part Actavis argued that an injunction would be “unprecedented and extraordinary” and would cause the company “great financial harm, including unnecessary manufacturing and marketing costs.” Namenda has been a big seller. In the last fiscal year, the drug generated $1.5 billion in sales. The drug costs about $300 a month.

 
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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by HiThere on Sunday December 14 2014, @07:45PM

    by HiThere (866) on Sunday December 14 2014, @07:45PM (#125976) Journal

    I'm not convinced that the patents on drugs are worth the bad effects in the current system. As someone else said, there is a clear conflict of interest in drug companies validating the drugs that they are going to sell. The current system, were it designed, would have been poorly designed unless the goal was to foster corruption among the drug companies.

    That said, this is a clear instance where there is required to be a large up front investment, the kind of thing patents should work best at. Perhaps the solution is for the owner of the drug patent to be required to license the same patent to all purchasers at the same rate (without specifying what the rate is). But that's not clearly specified, and nailing down the details would be essential. Perhaps there should also be a requirement that the holders of the patents not themselves be the manufacturer of the product. Perhaps the government should pay for testing, and charge a tax on patented medicines to pay for the testing.

    Someone in a slightly different context asserted that any centralized control was only a chokehold point for arbitrary control. I would strike the only, but the rest of the point is valid. So there would need to be an oversight of the testing process and procedures. Open records (with anonymization of patients) would probably be essential, but possibly not sufficient. Etc.

    However, this is a use case where I think patents really are appropriate. Just not as applied.

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