The opening salvo in what promises to be one of the hottest debates in the new Congress was fired January 29 during a day-long hearing in the House Committee on Oversight and Reform—how to lower the price of prescription drugs. And it didn’t take long to make it clear that patents are right in the middle of the scrum. The role of patents was a prominent part of the House hearing. While cursory nods were made to the importance of encouraging innovation, the witnesses discussed how patent exclusivity, thickets, and evergreening drove up prices while promoting the greater use of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reviews against drug patents. The Committee was assured that curtailing patents wouldn’t harm innovation because the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is such an important funder of life science R&D.
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