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Democrats in Congress looking to end drug company patent abuses

Written by Diane Archer

One big way to bring down the cost of prescription drugs is through changing the way the patent system works for pharmaceutical companies. Drug patents effectively confer monopoly pricing power on pharmaceutical companies. Stat News reports that a group of Democrats in Congress are looking to end drug company patent abuses.

Historically, pharmaceutical companies have been able to find ways to extend their patent protections. They have led lawmakers to mistakenly believe that they need the patent protections–they need to be able to set drug prices sky high–in order to invest in innovations. But, the data show otherwise.

This is really the first time that policymakers have taken on the drug companies’ power to set drug prices. Of note, compulsory licensing is accepted by Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the states. The National Governors Association endorsed a “compulsory licensing” proposal that is not unlike language in drug price negotiation bills introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), and by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).

The Bayh-Dole Act permits compulsory licensing for the public health and safety, but it has never been used. Health care advocates have been calling for its use to help ensure critical medicines are affordable. But, the NIH has never wanted to step in. It does not want to be in the business of controlling drug prices.

Some expect that, if HHS has compulsory licensing as a stick to bring down prices for drugs that are priced excessively, drug companies will come to the bargaining table to negotiate drug prices. They will not want the government to break their monopoly pricing power.

If you want Congress to rein in drug prices, please sign this petition.

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