Salem Radio Network News Thursday, June 17, 2021

Health

AbbVie exploits U.S. patents to protect profits: Congress report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Drugmaker AbbVie exploits the U.S. patent system to push up prices for its Humira rheumatoid arthritis drug and Imbruvica, a cancer drug, according to a U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee staff report on Tuesday.

AbbVie Inc’s chief executive officer Richard Gonzalez testifies Tuesday about Humira’s price, which has increased to $77,000 for a year’s supply, and the price of Imbruvica, which now costs $181,529 for a year’s supply, said the committee, which called Humira “the highest grossing drug in the world.”

AbbVie partners with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotech to make Imbruvica, which treats mantle cell lymphoma and other cancers.

AbbVie made $16 billion from Humira from U.S. patients in 2020, the report said.

“Documents and information obtained by the committee indicate that AbbVie’s senior executives received larger bonuses by raising the price of Humira, Imbruvica, and other drugs,” the report said, noting that U.S. patients tended to pay more than patients overseas.

The price increases meant that some U.S patients could not afford the medicines and stopped taking them, the report said.

In the case of Humira, the committee found that AbbVie obtained more than 200 patents on the medicine, sometimes called a patent thicket, to prevent generics from entering the market even though the patent on Humira’s active ingredient expired on Dec. 31, 2016.

“AbbVie’s patent strategy is particularly abusive because it seeks to overwhelm potential competitors with the sheer number of patents on Humira regardless of whether individual patents were properly granted under U.S. law. If one patent is invalidated, AbbVie has another patent waiting,” the report said.

AbbVie also settled with competitors who wanted to bring a generic to market, which normally brings prices down, to delay their entry, the report said.

AbbVie did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for Janssen said it was working with AbbVie to ensure that patients who needed Imbruvica had access to it and that the drug was undergoing a large number of expensive trials.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)

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