Patent Law

Pay-for-Delay Ban Left Out of Health Care Bill

A patent law change that would have banned so-called pay-for-delay patent deals was not included in the landmark health-care reform bill approved Sunday evening.

The historic legislation creates “a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system” and requires most Americans to have health insurance, the New York Times reports. Employers would be required to offer health insurance or to pay a penalty. The bill did not include a controversial public-option health plan that would compete with private insurance, however.

The patent provision removed from the bill would have restricted deals in which drugmakers pay rival companies to delay generic versions of their drugs, the Times reported.

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog says such deals usually mean higher prices for consumers forced to wait for cheaper generic versions of drugs. The blog predicted Friday that the measure would be left out of the bill in an effort to avoid provisions “that will kick up even more of a ruckus.”

The Federal Trade Commission opposes such deals. In a lawsuit dismissed last month by a federal judge, the agency had claimed a unit of Abbott Laboratories had violated antitrust laws by conspiring with a generic drug maker to postpone a generic version of the testosterone-replacement drug AndroGel. A federal judge dismissed the antitrust suit last month, citing appeals court decisions that allowed similar settlements, Dow Jones Newswires (sub. req.) reported at the time.

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