WASHINGTON, DC — Patients For Affordable Drugs sent a petition with more than 1,000 signatures demanding pharmaceutical giant AbbVie stop delaying the introduction of biosimilar alternatives to Humira, a move that hurts patients by keeping prices high.
The company announced in April it had inked a deal with manufacturer Samsung Bioepis that would guarantee AbbVie market exclusivity on Humira — the world’s top-selling drug — through 2023. It’s the second deal the drugmaker has signed in the last year to stifle competition and maintain high prices in the US.
“We hear from patients either not getting this medication, going broke because they need it or living in fear that the system they’ve patched together to pay for Humira will crumble at any time,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “This type of dealmaking hurts patients and taxpayers in order to protect an $18 billion blockbuster and enrich investors at the expense of patients.”
Sue Lee, 76, of Crestwood, KY is among those hurt by AbbVie’s unethical dealmaking. Lee has plaque psoriasis, a genetic condition that leads to deep, itchy sores on the skin. She was forced to stop taking Humira after learning the treatment would cost her $8,000 a year out-of-pocket. AbbVie’s move to extend its monopoly means Lee will have to wait at least five more years for a cheaper version of what she called her “miracle” drug.
Over the past five years, the price of Humira has more than doubled. Its most recent price increase of 9.7 percent in January 2018 will cost the U.S. health care system $1.2 billion.
In deal-for-delay agreements, a brand drug corporation makes a deal with a generic or biosimilar drugmaker to stall a generic version of the drug from coming to market, snuffing out competition and keeping prices high.
According to an FTC study, anticompetitive delay deals cost consumers and taxpayers $3.5 billion in higher drug costs every year. Since 2001, the FTC has filed a number of lawsuits to stop these deals, and it supports legislation to end such settlements.
The petition was sent as part of a national campaign to encourage AbbVie to stop abusive pricing practices that harm patients. Patients For Affordable Drugs has:
- Called out the company on social media for its abusive dealmaking practices;
- Met with and urged policymakers to call on the FTC to investigate AbbVie’s deals for delay and work on legislation to prohibit such deals;
- Sent a letter to the FTC calling for an investigation into AbbVie’s questionable dealmaking and asked the FTC to investigate whether AbbVie’s recent deal with Samsung Bioepis is anti-competitive and violates antitrust laws;
- Encouraged its national network of patients to write their senators in support of changes that would end similar deal-for-delay tactics. More than 1,200 patients have written to show their support.
Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only national patient organization focused exclusively on policies to lower prescription drug prices. It works to amplify the voices of Americans struggling under crushing drug prices to make policymakers and elected officials see the heavy toll of high-priced drugs and take action. Patients For Affordable Drugs does not accept contributions from any organization that profits from the development or distribution of prescription drugs.