Campaign against brand-name drug patent extension intensifies

Published 17 October 2005

One of the key elements in the administration’s efforts to encourage pharmaceutical companies to devote more of their resources to develop and produce effective drugs against bioterror threats is the extension of brand-name drug patents. Now, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) is raising some pointed questions about whether such a move would advance the goals of effective bioterrorism preparedness. PCMA is the national association representing America’s pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which administer prescription drug plans for about 200 million Americans. As best we could judge, most of the concerns PCMA has are related to the over-all impact the extension of brand-name drug patents would have

on the cost of non-bioterror-related drugs. These are valid concerns, but they may not be immediately relevant to the debate over the best way to guarantee development and production of effective biodefense drugs. Nonetheless, PCMA is part of the Coalition for a Competitive Pharmaceutical Market (CCPM), and the coalition has just sent a letter to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee outlining its concerns with drug-patent extensions. The Coalition is also running a print

advertising campaign inside the Beltway.