High Value Health Care

Improving patent examination can improve drug competition to bring down prices


While brand-name drugs make up only 8% of prescriptions, they account for 84% of all U.S. drug spending. But when generics and biosimilars enter the market, the power of a competitive marketplace drives dramatic  savings – $10-20 billion annually. Unfortunately recent misuse of patents by pharmaceutical companies is undermining price competition. The Patent Office is the first agency in the drug approval process that can impact whether lower-cost alternatives are ever offered to patients.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office is considering a new fee structure for patent applicants. Patricia Kelmar, PIRG’s senior health care director, was selected to testify today before the agency. She spoke about how improved patent examination can identify patent applications that are designed to build a complex “patent thicket” that keeps generic and biosimilar drugs off the market. And she urged the agency to preserve the rights of public interest groups to challenge weak patents through the Patent Office’s Trial and Appeal Board.  You can watch her five minute testimony.

U.S. PIRG's Patricia Kelmar tells the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office how to improve patient access to generic drugs

If your medication doesn’t have a lower-cost generic alternative, let us know the challenges you face with high prices.

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