The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Big pharma payoffs get some attention. Finally.

MSNBC takes a look at attempts by big pharma to pay off makers of generics so that they'll have more time to sell their brand name drugs at higher prices. You might be pleased to hear that there's bipartisan support to stop the practice. You won't be at all surprised to hear that this is old news. I wrote about the story nine months ago, but for some odd reason the GOP wasn't too troubled until very recently.

Drug companies increasingly are reaching legal settlements that delay the introduction of cheaper generic medicines and cheat Americans of billions of dollars a year in savings, federal regulators on Wednesday told lawmakers seeking to ban the agreements.

The Federal Trade Commission and others allege the settlements allow brand-name pharmaceutical companies to pay off would-be generic competitors, which then agree to delay introduction of their less costly but otherwise identical versions of the original medicines.

The FTC issued a report Wednesday, to coincide with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the topic, that shows the settlements have become more common since two 2005 appeals court decisions upheld their legality.

In the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, half of the 28 patent litigation settlements between brand-name and generic drug makers included such an agreement, according to the FTC. It tallied just three the previous fiscal year and none the year before that.

Ahhhh, that takes me back to the days of Al Gore and "no controlling legal authority" a line that became a mantra among right-wingers who were shocked-- shocked!-- that someone might do something underhanded just because it's legal. Then along came 2000, and it remained a right-wing mantra-- just for entirely different reasons.