Increasing prescription drug expenditures in the United States are primarily driven by high brand-name drug prices. Although generic competition helps lower drug prices, manufacturers of brand-name drugs often work to delay the availability of generic versions of their products. Strategies to forestall generic competition include patenting peripheral aspects of a drug or modified formulations that do not add clinical value, paying generic manufacturers to settle lawsuits challenging the validity of patents on brand-name drugs (“reverse payment” settlements), denying generic manufacturers access to drug samples necessary for bioequivalence testing, misusing risk evaluation and mitigation strategies, and filing citizen petitions with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To address such tactics, the federal government can interpret existing patenting standards more strictly and promote certain types of patent challenges to ensure that patents are granted or upheld only for true innovations. Congress can enact pending legislation that would help discourage reverse payment settlements and compel brand-name manufacturers to share drug samples for bioequivalence testing. Finally, the FDA can provide earlier guidance on bioequivalence determinations for complex generic products and adopt the presumption that late-filed citizen petitions should be summarily rejected.
Vokinger KN, Kesselheim AS, Avorn J, Sarpatwari A. Strategies That Delay Market Entry of Generic Drugs. JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 18, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.4650