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Biden Administration Flexes Authority to Seize Drug Patents, Aims to Reduce Soaring Prices

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Biden Administration Asserts Power to Seize Drug Patents in Effort to Reduce Prices

The Biden administration has taken a significant step towards slashing high drug prices and promoting pharmaceutical competition by asserting its authority to seize the patents of certain costly medications. In a framework unveiled on Thursday, federal agencies are now able to consider a medication's price when deciding whether to use the controversial policy of march-in rights to break patents of drugs developed with federal funds but not widely accessible to the public. White House National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard emphasized the administration's commitment to ensuring reasonable prices for taxpayer-funded drugs. This move aligns with President Joe Biden's focus on lowering drug prices as a key aspect of his healthcare agenda and reelection platform for 2024. The announcement comes after a comprehensive nine-month review of the federal government's march-in rights, aimed at updating the framework for utilizing this policy. The pressure to address high drug prices has also led healthcare companies to launch their own initiatives. CVS recently introduced a new prescription drug pricing model that has the potential to reduce costs for patients at the pharmacy counter. According to a survey by the health policy research organization KFF, nearly three in ten Americans struggle to afford necessary medications. Additionally, research suggests that U.S. patients spend approximately $1,200 more per person on prescription drugs compared to individuals in other nations. Despite taxpayers investing billions of dollars in funding hundreds of drugs over the past decade, prices remain high. This has prompted the Biden administration to consider further government action to cut prices. While it remains unclear how federal agencies will utilize march-in rights under the new framework, the potential implications for the pharmaceutical industry are significant. The industry has long argued that this policy discourages research and development of new drugs, as seizing a patent exposes the treatment to competition and reduces revenue for companies, limiting their ability to reinvest in drug development. Previous administrations, including those of Obama and Trump, rejected march-in requests, and the Trump administration proposed a rule preventing the policy's use based solely on high drug prices. The Biden administration's push to exercise march-in rights has faced criticism from the pharmaceutical industry's largest lobbying group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The group argues that this approach undermines collaboration between the public and private sectors and hinders the advancement of new treatments and cures. However, the Biden administration has chosen not to finalize the Trump administration's proposal and has been more proactive in addressing high drug prices. While the Biden administration has made efforts to lower drug prices through other means, such as granting Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices for the first time in the program's history, challenges persist. For example, the costly prostate cancer drug Xtandi from Astellas Pharma and Pfizer was excluded from the initial ten medications selected for negotiations, leading to dropped lawsuits and ongoing price talks. In summary, the Biden administration's assertion of power to seize drug patents marks a significant move towards reducing high prices. The impact on the pharmaceutical industry and the effectiveness of march-in rights in promoting competition and affordability will be closely watched in the coming months.

Implications of Biden Administration's Power to Seize Drug Patents on New Business Ventures

The Biden administration's recent assertion of power to seize drug patents could significantly impact new business formations within the pharmaceutical industry.

Impact on Drug Pricing and Affordability

The administration's move is aimed at reducing high drug prices and promoting competition. This could potentially create a more level playing field for startups entering the pharmaceutical industry, as it might limit the pricing power of established companies with patented drugs.

Implications for Research and Development

However, this policy could also have implications for research and development. The pharmaceutical industry has long argued that the threat of patent seizure discourages innovation and development of new drugs. Startups in this sector, which often rely on the potential of a successful patent to attract investment, might be particularly affected.

Changes in Industry Landscape

The Biden administration's push to exercise march-in rights could eventually lead to major changes in the pharmaceutical industry landscape. If patents can be seized, it could encourage new entrants to focus on manufacturing and distribution, rather than research and development.

Responses from Established Players

The response from established players will also be crucial. The pharmaceutical industry's largest lobbying group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, has criticized the move, arguing it undermines public-private sector collaboration. New businesses will need to navigate this complex political and commercial landscape.

Future Developments

It remains to be seen how federal agencies will utilize march-in rights under the new framework, and what the long-term impacts on the pharmaceutical industry will be. For new business formations, these developments will be closely watched and could significantly influence their strategies and prospects.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/12/07/biden-administration-asserts-power-to-seize-drug-patents.html
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