How Drug Company Made $114 Billion By Gaming U.S. Patent System

  • In 2016, a blockbuster drug called Humira was poised to become a lot less valuable.
  • The key patent on the best-selling anti-inflammatory medication, used to treat conditions like arthritis, was expiring at the end of the year. Regulators had blessed a rival version of the drug, and more copycats were close behind.
  • The onset of competition seemed likely to push down the medication’s $50,000-a-year list price.
  • Instead, the opposite happened. Through its savvy but legal exploitation of the U.S. patent system, Humira’s manufacturer, AbbVie, blocked competitors from entering the market.
  • For the next six years, the drug’s price kept rising. Today, Humira is the most lucrative franchise in pharmaceutical history.
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