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Fighting Big Pharma

hydrarchist writes

"Generic Medicine Supplier Reguests Action to Lower Price of Two Blockbuster Drugs"

Essential Inventions, Inc., announces that it will request US Secretary of
Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to use authority under
Bayh-Dole Act to license generic production of two blockbuster drugs
funded by federal government; abusive pricing cited as grounds.PRESS CONFERENCE: 9:30-11:00am, Thursday January 29, 2004
Washington Press Club

SPEAKERS: James Love, President of Essential Inventions, Inc./ Director
Consumer Project on Technology,
Sean Flynn, Senior Attorney, CPTech

On Thursday January 29, 2004, Essential Inventions, Inc., will file two
complaints with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson
alleging abusive pricing of government funded medicines by two of the
largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

One complaint will state that Abbott Laboratories has endangered public
health and failed to make a government-supported invention available to
the public on reasonable terms when it recently increased five-fold the
price of the best selling AIDS medicine, Norvir.

A second complaint will state that Pfizer Corp. has failed to make a
government-supported invention available to the public on reasonable
terms by charging U.S. consumers between two and five times as much as
Canadians and Europeans for the best-selling glaucoma treatment, Xalatan.

Each of the two medicines was discovered in the performance of federal
research grants, awarded by the National Institutes of Health. The
Bayh-Dole Act, passed in 1980, gives the Secretary the authority to
“march-in” on each patent and license other producers to supply U.S.
consumers where necessary to alleviate health needs or because the
patent holder has failed to make the invention available on reasonable

To allay concerns about negative impacts on research and development for
new medicines, each complaint will request that Secretary Thompson
require that generic producers under the licenses contribute to special
funds for new medicine development.


Essential Inventions, Inc. is a non-profit corporation organized under
the laws of the District of Columbia in January 2004. The Corporation’s
Articles state that it was organized to “promote the creation and
distribution of essential inventions and other works that support public
health, nutrition, learning, and access to information and cultural life.”

Essential Inventions, Inc., has suppliers that are ready to manufacture
generic versions of Xalatan and Norvir at highly reduced prices to U.S.


The Bayh-Dole Act (passed in 1980) permits inventors to retain ownership
of inventions supported by federal grants, subject to “march-in” rights
that can be used to license anyone to use the patent without consent of
the patent holder.

The government’s march-in rights may be used if the invention is not
made “available to the public on reasonable terms” or if “action is
necessary to alleviate health or safety needs.”

The government has apparently never used its march-in rights for a
medicine. Essential Inventions, Inc. will argue that these cases do
provide grounds for use of the government’s march-in rights.


Latanoprost (sold by Pfizer under the trademark Xalatan) was discovered
by a scientist at Columbia University working under a grant from the
National Eye Institute.

Latanopost is the highest selling glaucoma treatment, with sales over $1
billion in 2003.

Xalatan is sold in the U.S. (CVS price) for $60 for a 4-6 week supply
(active ingredient: 1% of sales price). The U.S. price is generally 2-5
times higher than in Canada or Europe, despite U.S. taxpayers having
funded its invention.

Extensive information about the development of Latanoprost is provided
in an April 23, 2000 article in the New York Times written by Jeff Gerth
and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, titled "Drug Companies Profit From Research
Supported by Taxpayers."

http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/he alth/042300hth-drugs.html