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November 28, 2008
Euros Put Cost (to People) on Patent Lawsuits
While researching the previous entry I came across this item: European regulators put out a report today accusing drug manufacturers of costing consumers EU 3 billion by using patent lawsuits to keep generics off the markets.
Back in January, the EU Competition Commission staged raids on at least nine major drug companies, seeking evidence on restrictive business practices, and then another round of "surprise inspections" earlier this week. There will also be public hearings today.
The report so far is preliminary, with a final draft due in mid-09, with language like this:
a variety of tactics are used to delay or block the sale of generic drugs, including filing large numbers of patents for the same drug, suing generic companies, settling patent disputes and intervening in national procedures for generic-drug approvals.
It's not immediately clear from the press reports whether anyone is going to be accused of outright illegality, and of course the drug companies are responding by claiming that EU regulation is blocking innovation and anyway lots of people get generics now so what's all the fuss.
About three years ago, I wrote about situations (AIDS drugs in particular) where patent protection was having the effect of killing people. It's sort of sad that we've made little or no progress in that time.
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