High Value Health Care

U.S. PIRG health policy expert urges federal agencies to collaborate on causes of high drug prices

Health care

Prescription drugs in blister packs
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Prescription drugs

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, 2023 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.

Read PIRG’s comments.

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