Oct. 19, 2017
Public Citizen and 29 Groups to Senate: Investigate Allergan’s Anti-Competitive Scheme
Statement of Steve Knievel, Access to Medicines Advocate, Public Citizen
Note: Pharmaceutical corporation Allergan recently entered into an agreement with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, transferring patents for the dry eye medicine Restasis to the tribe and then licensing them back in a ploy to prolong patent exclusivity. The deal attempts to prolong Allergan’s monopoly by shielding weak patent claims from challenge through the inter partes review system created by the U.S. Congress in 2011. Today, Public Citizen and 29 groups, representing health care providers, public health experts, people of faith, consumers, businesses and taxpayers, sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary calling for an investigation.
Allergan’s latest trick to maintain exorbitant prices and extend monopoly profits is beyond the pale, even for a pharmaceutical corporation. Treating tribal sovereign immunity as a commodity to be bought and sold is a gross abuse of the law.
Instead of responding to public outrage about unaffordable medicines, Allergan devised a scheme to circumvent the rules and block competition, all toward the end of maintaining the monopoly on its blockbuster therapy.
This isn’t the first time consumers have been abused by Allergan with regard to Restasis. Medicare Part D spent $787 per user in 2011. By 2015, that figure increased to $1,422, nearly doubling.
Allergan may be deaf to Americans’ demand for relief from price gouging, but our elected representatives must respond. The Senate Judiciary Committee should immediately launch an investigation into the Allergan’s move to use a Native American tribe as a patent shelter.