Patients For Affordable Drugs sent the following letter on Wednesday, September 13, to PhRMA President and CEO Stephen J. Ubl.
Dear Mr. Ubl,
Your website states: “Our mission is to conduct effective advocacy for public policies that encourage the discovery of important, new medicines for patients by biopharmaceutical research companies.” Your mission does not include any reference to extending patents to maximize profits for corporations at the expense of patients. Therefore, it is time the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America take a stand against Allergan’s outrageous legal maneuvers that serve to extend its monopoly over Restasis and keep prices high.
Let me describe why this issue is important to patients in their own words:
- Ann Neilson of Madra, OR: “I have been on Restasis for dry eyes for many years. There are still no generics which I don’t understand. The charge for my last 3 month prescription was $1,205.95.”
- Marsha Collins of Asheville, NC: “I use Restasis eye drops for Sjogren’s syndrome. At the beginning of the year I had to pay $230 for one month’s supply of these eyedrops. I am not ‘“poor’”, but I had to sacrifice on food in order to pay for these drops.”
- Betsy Eynouf of Ludowici, GA: “I’m on Medicare SSD, and I get $1,400 a month for a family of 3. I’m on Restasis, which costs $300 a month. How am I supposed to live, and pay for rent, electricity, etc?”
The bargain under Hatch-Waxman is clear. Drug corporations receive exclusive rights for the drugs they invent for a period of time. During that time, corporations reap massive returns on their investments. But at the end of that exclusive period, the monopoly ends. Generic competitors come to market and put downward pressure on the price of a drug.
The original patent for Restasis’ active ingredient expired in 2014. The patients above would all benefit from a less expensive alternative. But Allergan’s abuse of America’s patent system blocks competition and keeps prices high.
This week, Allergan announced plans to further thwart the will of Congress by transferring patent rights to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. The drug company explicitly claimed the move was intended to prevent vulnerability from inter partes review.
These legal shenanigans must end. We call on you and your member companies to immediately disavow Allergan’s disgusting legal dance to transfer corporate patents to tribal governments in order to circumvent the law.
PhRMA must state unequivocally that it does not support such legal schemes, and it should announce that it will sanction any drug corporation that engages in such morally bankrupt legal maneuvers that game the system and hurt patients.
Your website claims PhRMA members are devoted to “developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.” But drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them. Our system is built to reward innovation with exclusivity, but to make drugs more affordable once that exclusive period expires. That is the bargain. We assume you support it.
The problem with Allergan’s recent announcement is clear.
You have an opportunity to be a leader and promote your organization’s mission of developing new drugs and helping patients.
We urge you to Go Boldly, Mr. Ubl. We hope to hear from you soon.
David Mitchell President and Founder
Patients For Affordable Drugs