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Biden Administration Considers Overriding Patents on High-Priced Drugs Developed with Taxpayer Money

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Mason Walker
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Biden Administration Considers Overriding Patents on High-Priced Drugs Developed with Taxpayer Money

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The Biden administration has recently announced a potential change in policy that could significantly affect the pharmaceutical industry. The new proposal suggests overriding the patents for high-priced drugs developed with taxpayer money, with the goal of making these drugs more affordable for the public. This move is primarily aimed at ending price gouging in the pharmaceutical industry.

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A New Approach

According to sources, this plan marks a significant shift in the government's approach to drug patents. The administration's proposal would take into account the high price of taxpayer-funded drugs while determining if a drug is not accessible to the public on reasonable terms. This initiative would allow competitors to manufacture their own versions of these patented medicines, potentially lowering the cost. However, this proposal has been met with criticism from several pharmaceutical companies, who argue that it could threaten future drug development.

The 'March-in Rights'

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The policy in question, known as the 'march-in rights', provides the government with the authority to seize the patents of certain costly medications. The administration has the power to grant additional licenses to third parties for products developed using federal funds if the original patent holder does not make them available to the public at reasonable terms. Despite its existence, the U.S. government has previously resisted calls to exercise these rights, declining in March to force Pfizer and Astellas Pharma to lower the price of their prostate cancer drug, Xtandi.

Pharmaceutical Industry's Response

The pharmaceutical industry's largest lobbying group has slammed the Biden administration's push to exercise march-in rights. They argue that this move could potentially threaten future drug development. This concern is based on the premise that drug innovation requires substantial investments, and the promise of exclusive rights through patents incentivizes these investments. Stripping companies of their patents could disincentivize future research and development efforts.

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The Future of Drug Development

While the Biden administration’s proposal could potentially make high-priced drugs more affordable, it is important to consider the possible impact on future drug development. It remains to be seen how this policy will be implemented and what effect it will have on both the affordability of drugs and the incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest in new drug development. The administration has not yet released specific details about how the process will work and which drugs will be deemed costly enough to warrant action.

Conclusion

The plan to override patents for high-priced drugs developed with taxpayer money represents a new approach in the government's efforts to make medicines more affordable for the public. While this policy could potentially lower drug prices, it has been met with criticism from pharmaceutical companies who fear it could disincentivize future drug development. The full impact of this policy will become clear only once the specific details of its implementation are released.

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