A short history of drug patent expirations

Drug patents take center stage in the drug price debate. Although the need for cheaper options such as generics and biosimilars is great, pharma companies are often reluctant to let drug patents expire since they can continue to generate revenue.

Pharma bro Martin Shkreli called public attention to the practice of obtaining manufacturing licenses for drugs with patents that expired and boosting their prices. Another approach, known as “Evergreening”, allows drug companies to extend their monopolies and stave off generic competition by obtaining patents to cover new uses for drugs, methods of manufacture and formulations.

From 2016-2020 our biopharma reporters past and present have explored the drug patent terrain. Their articles provide a guide to the drug patents that were set to expire and highlight efforts by the FDA to stimulate the market for generics. They also highlight the challenges of getting cheaper drug options to market.

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