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House Judiciary Committee Advances Patent Abuse Legislation

December 4, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance two bills that crack down on anticompetitive patent tactics by drugmakers.

The two bills, H.R. 3991 and H.R. 5133, were advanced with just one amendment to H.R. 5133, moving them along to the House floor for a vote. No date has yet been scheduled for the vote.

Sponsored by Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Martha Roby (R-Ala.), the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Through Improvements to Patent Litigation Act of 2019 (H.R. 3991), addresses “patent thicketing,” an anticompetitive tactic that uses the filing of patent claims to delay the market entry of biosimilars. The legislation specifically limits the number of patents that brand-name drugmakers may pursue in litigation.

The Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Through Promoting Competition Act of 2019 (H.R. 5133), spearheaded by the committee’s Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), looks to end the use of “product hopping,” an anticompetitive tactic that blocks patients from switching to cheaper generic drugs. It would do so by defining the tactic as an illegal method of competition in the FTC Act.

“Not only would this legislation help deter such conduct in the first place — through the FTC’s ability to obtain equitable monetary relief — it would also expedite judicial proceedings by providing much-needed clarity to the law,” said Nadler.

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