Tag Archives: Patent Abuse

Glyn Moody explains an example of patent product hopping

Glyn Moody:

known as “product hopping”. That’s where:

“a company makes modest changes to a product to extend its patent protections so that other companies cannot enter the market and offer less-expensive generic alternatives”…

why Reckitt would want to pay for and then publicize a study that showed one of its own products was dangerous became clearer just a few hours later, when it submitted a “citizen petition” to the Food and Drug Administration:

“urging the US regulator to ban any future competitor pills to its suboxone tablets that were insufficiently “child resistant”.”

In other words, Reckitt effectively wanted the FDA to ban any generic versions of its own tablets, now out of patent, while leaving its patented film formulation on the market to enjoy a new monopoly…

Scott Alexander on how bad government regulation begets more goverment regulation (EpiPen edition)

Scott Alexander

EpiPens, useful medical devices which reverse potentially fatal allergic reactions, have recently quadrupled in price…

Let me ask Vox a question: when was the last time that America’s chair industry hiked the price of chairs 400% and suddenly nobody in the country could afford to sit down? When was the last time that the mug industry decided to charge $300 per cup, and everyone had to drink coffee straight from the pot or face bankruptcy? When was the last time greedy shoe executives forced most Americans to go barefoot? And why do you think that is?

The problem with the pharmaceutical industry isn’t that they’re unregulated just like chairs and mugs. The problem with the pharmaceutical industry is that they’re part of a highly-regulated cronyist system that works completely differently from chairs and mugs.

If a chair company decided to charge $300 for their chairs, somebody else would set up a woodshop, sell their chairs for $250, and make a killing – and so on until chairs cost normal-chair-prices again. When Mylan decided to sell EpiPens for $300, in any normal system somebody would have made their own EpiPens and sold them for less. It wouldn’t have been hard. Its active ingredient, epinephrine, is off-patent, was being synthesized as early as 1906, and costs about ten cents per EpiPen-load.

Why don’t they? They keep trying, and the FDA keeps refusing to approve them for human use…

EpiPen manufacturer Mylan Inc spends about a million dollars on lobbying per year.OpenSecrets.org tells us what bills got all that money. They seem to have given the most to defeat S.214, the “Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act”. The bill would ban pharmaceutical companies from bribing generic companies not to create generic drugs…

So let me try to make this easier to understand.

Imagine that the government creates the Furniture and Desk Association, an agency which declares that only IKEA is allowed to sell chairs. IKEA responds by charging $300 per chair. Other companies try to sell stools or sofas, but get bogged down for years in litigation over whether these technically count as “chairs”. When a few of them win their court cases, the FDA shoots them down anyway for vague reasons it refuses to share…

Imagine that this whole system is going on at the same time that IKEA spends millions of dollars lobbying senators about chair-related issues, and that these same senators vote down a bill preventing IKEA from paying off other companies to stay out of the chair industry. Also, suppose that a bunch of people are dying each year of exhaustion from having to stand up all the time because chairs are too expensive unless you’ve got really good furniture insurance, which is totally a thing and which everybody is legally required to have.

And now imagine that a news site responds with an article saying the government doesn’t regulate chairs enough.