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Sanders Applauds FTC’s Efforts to Challenge ‘Junk’ Patents for Drugs Such as Ozempic

Sanders Praises FTC Challenge of 'Junk' Patents for Drugs (Credits: Common Dreams)

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders commended the Biden administration for its efforts to combat pharmaceutical companies’ manipulation of patents, particularly highlighting the case of Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic.

Sanders praised the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), led by Chair Lina Khan, for taking decisive action against Novo Nordisk’s alleged filing of “bogus patents” to obstruct generic competition for Ozempic, a drug used to treat diabetes.

Sanders, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, emphasized the importance of preventing Novo Nordisk from profiting by delaying generic competition through what he called “unlawfully filing junk patents.”

FTC challenges patents held by drugmakers (Credits: CNBC)

He underscored the disparity in drug prices, noting that Ozempic costs outstanding less in other countries compared to the United States.

Last week, Sanders’ committee initiated an investigation into the high prices charged by Novo Nordisk for Ozempic and another drug, Wegovy, which is used to treat obesity. He reiterated his commitment to working with the Biden administration to address what he sees as the pharmaceutical industry’s greed and to substantially reduce drug prices.

The FTC’s recent action extends beyond Novo Nordisk, with warning letters sent to multiple pharmaceutical companies challenging the accuracy or relevance of over 300 patent listings across various brand name products. These listings cover drugs used to treat asthma, COPD, diabetes, and weight loss.

Chair Lina Khan emphasized that by challenging what she called “bogus patent filings,” the FTC is combating illegal tactics used by pharmaceutical companies to block competition and inflate drug prices. Steve Knievel from Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program echoed this sentiment, praising the FTC’s actions and calling for further measures to address pharmaceutical monopoly abuses.

Bernie Sanders (Credits: NBC News)

Knievel suggested that the FDA should clarify guidelines for patents listed in the Orange Book and explore using licensing authorities to counteract pharmaceutical monopoly abuses. He referenced proposals by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal advocating for such actions.

Sanders and advocates like Knievel applaud the FTC’s efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable and advocate for policies aimed at ensuring affordable access to prescription drugs for Americans.

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