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June 2016

How Patent Troll Legislation Can Increase Timely Access to Generic Drugs

Author Affiliations
  • 1Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(6):729-730. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1867

Patent reform legislation was recently introduced in Congress—the Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 (PATENT Act) in the Senate and Innovation Act in the House1,2—to curb the effects of nonpracticing entities or, as they are more colorfully known, “patent trolls.” Nonpracticing entities are organizations that acquire and hold patents, often not developing technology related to their patents, and use their patent rights to sue companies that are developing and selling allegedly infringing products. Patent trolls, though a thorn to large technology companies, are less prevalent in the health care field. However, the legislation has nonetheless been strongly contested by the biopharmaceutical industry because current efforts to restrict patent trolls represent the latest in a series of initiatives to bring restraint to the patent system—and specifically have an impact on poorly innovative drug patents that manufacturers traditionally rely on to maintain profits by delaying timely generic drug competition.

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