Jan 31, 2024

PIP Applauds Wisconsin Senator for Exposing Anti-Competitive Tactics on Critical Treatments, Encourages Lawmakers to Call Attention to Additional Egregious Examples of Big Pharma’s Greed

In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Baldwin (D-WI) this week sent a letter to the four largest drug manufacturers of asthma inhalers, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and Teva, calling on them to stop abusing the patent system by removing improperly listed patents in the Orange Book. Baldwin writes:

“In part due to a lack of competition, brand-name inhalers can cost up to $600 per month – a price that is unaffordable for most families, but particularly low-income individuals who are more likely to suffer from asthma and COPD. Innovative products deserve protection but, for too long, large corporations have bent the rules to unfairly protect themselves from competition and Wisconsinites have paid the price. While drug companies are required to list certain patents in the Orange Book, bad actors can exploit this process to inappropriately deter competition and generic drug development, leading to fewer treatment options and higher prices for consumers.

“The price of anticompetitive behavior is ultimately paid by Wisconsinites, through higher costs, fewer treatments, and worse health. It must stop.”

For too long, Big Pharma companies have utilized anti-competitive tactics that keep more affordable alternatives from the market, increasing drug spending for Americans. The case of asthma inhalers is just one example. 

Another recent case of Big Pharma’s patent abuse is United Therapeutics Corporation’s (UTC) years-long patent strategy around Treprostinil, an inhaled medication used to treat pulmonary hypertension. A small biotech company Liquidia Technologies completed a Phase 3 trial of dry power inhaled version of Treprostinil, which would be easier to use for patients, including by more precisely and conveniently delivering treatment to the source of the disease in the lungs, reducing side effects and toxicity from the currently available treatment, and significantly reducing the burden of administration for patients.

Unfortunately six years later, this innovative version of Treprostinil is still being blocked from entering the market because of UTC’s patent strategy to cause delay and inflict cost on their competitors to extend the length of their monopoly on the pulmonary hypertension drug. UTC continues to file patent claim after patent claim against Liquidia’s version of Treprostinil – which have continued to be invalidated (37 of 49 patent claims) in either the U.S. District Court or by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) – forcing the small biotech company into a lengthy and costly legal process.

Lawmakers should build on the important work of Senator Baldwin and other Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle to call out additional instances of brazen Big Pharma abuse of the patent system, including the case study in greed offered by UTC.

Read the full letter from Senator Baldwin HERE.

See Public Innovation Project’s (PIP) recent blog on renewed congressional activity to crack down on Pharma’s patent abuse HERE.

Learn more about the greed of UTC and its patent strategy to undermine competition and stifle innovation HERE.

Find out more about PIP and our mission HERE.