U.S. PIRG health policy expert to speak at FDA-USPTO joint listening session

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For immediate release: Wednesday, January 18, 2023

U.S. PIRG health policy expert to speak at FDA-USPTO joint listening session

Consumer group to recommend lowering barriers to generic drugs to fight high Rx prices.

WASHINGTON – The new year always rings in a spate of prescription drug price increases. Yet 1 in 4 Americans already struggle to pay for the medications at the previous year’s prices. On Thursday, January 19, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are holding a joint public listening session to “ensure that our innovation system strikes the appropriate balance—encouraging meaningful innovation in drug development and supporting a competitive marketplace that can promote greater access to medicines for American families.” 

Patricia Kelmar, PIRG’s senior director for health care campaigns, was selected to speak at Thursday’s session and will focus her comments on how the two agencies can better collaborate to break down barriers that prevent generic drugs from competing on the marketplace. When even one generic drug alternative makes it to the pharmacy shelves, it works to bring down the price of the brand-name drug by as much as 40%

“Patents play an important role in spurring innovation, but some drug companies are abusing the system,” said Kelmar. “The two agencies must improve their collaboration to avoid approving patents filed for the purpose of creating patent ‘thickets’ that prevent or postpone generic competition. It’s time to put an end to patents that allow monopoly pricing without any substantial change to the medication or its efficacy.”

The agencies are holding this listening session in response to President Joe Biden’s 2021 Executive Order on Competition which specifically called for greater support for generic and biosimilar drugs to provide low-cost options for the people who need them.

WHAT:  Joint USPTO-FDA Public Listening Session on Collaboration Initiatives.

WHERE:  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Headquarters, Clara Barton Auditorium, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

WHO: Patricia Kelmar, U.S. PIRG’s senior director for health care campaigns

WHEN: Thursday, January 19, 2022. As per the USPTO agenda, Patricia will speak between 3:30 p.m. – 4:10 p.m. ET

***Patricia will be available for interviews Wednesday and after she speaks on Thursday. Her presentation will be based on PIRG’s formal submitted comments***