Big Pharma News
Big Pharma: Profits Over People - Drug Patents
MDL’s have been formed on Eliquis, Ethicion’s Phyiomesh, the Stryker coCR V40 femoral heads and proton pump inhibitors Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix and Dexilant.
The attorneys at ThelawFirm.com have written many times about the lengths that Big Pharma will go to in order to protect their profits. It is our belief that these corporations consistently and frequently place their profits over the people that they are trying to ‘help’. This belief is not only backed up by our experience with these corporations but by the numbers. Some estimate that 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 people a year are injured in mass tort cases. There are approximately 230 MDL dockets in the US today with about 123,000 actions pending in 50 US District Courts. New MDL’s are created constantly. Recently, MDL’s have been formed on Eliquis, Ethicion’s Phyiomesh, the Stryker coCR V40 femoral heads and proton pump inhibitors Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix and Dexilant.
But there is another important way that Big Pharma makes money. That is through patenting drugs. These companies fight hard to keep these patents. However, there are also many companies that want to make a generic version. The law in the US has a process for sorting out who gets to make the drug. Recently, for example, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled that a patent for Johnson & Johnson’s Zytiga prostate cancer drug described an ‘obvious process’. This ruling invalidated the last remaining patent blocking Argentum Pharmaceuticals LLC from making a generic version of Zytiga. Zytiga made over $2.2 billion in sales in 2016.
The Board said that the patent that covers Zytiga’s chemical combination for fighting prostate cancer could have been developed using prior patents. The Board said that anyone experienced in pharmaceutical research could have figured out how to combine the chemicals to make it work.
Johnson & Johnson argued that Zytiga’s success in the market and the failure of others to match that success was evidence the drug could not have been obviously developed by just anyone.
The amount of money at stake shows exactly why, in our opinion, Big Pharma is willing to do whatever it takes to get drugs onto the market and keep them there. Drug companies fighting among themselves for the profits is only way that the concept of ‘profits over people’ manifests itself.
Big News In The Fight Against Big Pharma
On December 21, 2017 the Supreme court of California in T.H. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation ruled that consumers can file lawsuits against makers of brand-name pharmaceutical products when it is alleged that generic versions of the drugs manufactured by other companies are what caused injuries to the Plaintiff. The lawsuit centered on two twin children who were diagnosed with developmental delays and autism after their mother took a generic version of Brethine to suppress premature labor.
This is significant news regarding the ability to hold Big Pharma accountable. After all, generics are based on the formula and the research and development done in Big Pharma labs. Since they created the pharmaceutical, why should they not be responsible for any injury or death caused by the progeny of the drug?
This decision is the only one in the United Sates where a state’s top court has ruled in favor of consumers who were prescribed generic drugs, and have legally been prevented from filing suit against generic drug makers for not warning about their products’ risks.
Thus, the ruling has probably created massive exposure for brand-name drug makers who can now be sued in California for failing to warn users about the risks of cheaper, generic versions of their drugs. The attorneys at TheLawFirm.com see this decision as a huge victory for public health and safety.
The defendant in the case, Novartis, said it disagrees with the court’s decision to potentially hold it responsible for an injury caused by a different company’s product. This has been the primary defense of Big Pharma when defending themselves from legal claims against generic makers of the products that Big Pharma brought to the marketplace originally.
Indeed, Novartis argued its duty to warn consumers did not cover those taking generics and that a contrary ruling would effectively make it the market’s insurer.
The court disagreed. Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar wrote that brand-name manufacturers are the only entities with the ability to strengthen a warning label. The Court stated that we “find that brand-name drug manufacturers have a duty to use ordinary care in warning about the safety risks of their drugs, regardless of whether the injured party (in reliance on the brand-name manufacturer’s warning) was dispensed the brand-name or generic version of the drug. We also conclude that a brand-name manufacturer’s sale of the rights to a drug does not, as a matter of law, terminate its liability for injuries foreseeably and proximately caused by deficiencies present in the warning label prior to the sale.
As California based attorneys with a nation-wide practice focusing on bad drugs and defective medical devices, we applaud this decision. We will continue to try and hold big Pharma accountable when they injured innocent Americans.
Doctors Given More Than $8 Billion by Drug and Medical Device Companies
The federal government’s Open Payments initiative has revealed that the makers of drugs and medical devices paid $8.2 billion in 2016 to doctors and teaching hospitals for the marketing and research of their products. The sum includes more than $2 billion in disputed payments.
$2.8 billion went to speaker fees, consulting, travel, meals, and gifts; $4.4 billion for research payments; and $1 billion was paid in the form of ownership interests (e.g., shares of stock) in the companies.
Almost 1500 companies made payments, though the great majority was from just a few dozen corporations. Pharmaceutical and medical-devices giants such as Genentech ($534 million), Novartis ($471 million), Pfizer ($475 million), AstraZeneca ($270 million), Merck ($302 million), and AbbVie ($171 million) led the pack in spending.
Recipients of the money included more than 600,000 physicians and more than 1100 teaching hospitals.
The goal of the Open Payments initiative, an arm of the Affordable Care Act, is to make transparent the agreements between doctors and drug/device manufacturers.
If you believe that your health has been compromised by the dealings between doctors and drug and device manufacturers, TheLawFirm.com wants to help you.