Some companies have proven time and again they will do anything they can to keep safe, low-cost generic medicines off the market at the expense of patients seeking access to affordable medicines.
Brand drug companies can hinder competition by taking advantage of the patent process. “Evergreening” is the process of making minor changes to a product and pursuing a new patent with its requisite protection from competition. This results in more revenue for the protected brand drug companies, while patients lose out.
Thankfully, congress created a process to address these scenarios that allows generic drug companies to challenge these weaker patents through a process called inter partes review (IPR). Successful IPR challenges are more efficient than the usual patent challenge procedures, and when successful, can get generic drugs into patients’ hands faster.
It should come as no surprise that brand drug companies are working to weaken the IPR process or exempt pharmaceuticals from IPR entirely.
Congress and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office should ignore big pharma’s attacks on the IPR process. The Inter Partes Review is working as designed to eliminate bad patents, improve patent quality, increase the value of higher quality patents by weeding out the worst ones, and helping speed safe, low cost generic medicines into the marketplace and into patient’s hands.