|WASHINGTON, DC — David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs, will testify today before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee at the hearing, “Profits Over Consumers: Exposing How Pharmaceutical Corporations Game the System.”
The hearing will take place at 10:30 a.m. at 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.
Watch here, and read Mitchell’s testimony here.
Mitchell will explain to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection that pharma’s patent games are one of the many tactics hurting patients through testimony that explores the impact of product hopping.
“The key challenge is to act in a manner that encourages and protects real innovation that delivers meaningful clinical and therapeutic benefits while stopping product hops designed only to thwart competition and keep prices high,” Mitchell tells the committee in his prepared testimony. “When drug companies offer a new product that does not provide clinical or therapeutic benefit, there should be no extended exclusivity or patent protection.”
In one of the most egregious examples of this tactic, the company Reckitt Benckiser (RB) swapped out its Suboxone tablet, used to treat opioid addiction, for a film that dissolves under the tongue –– right before the company was set to lose its monopoly on the tablet. RB then raised the price on the tablet and flooded doctors’ offices with the film. Citing safety claims later found to befraudulent, RB discontinued its older version, forcing all Suboxone patients onto its new patent-protected version. Reckitt Benckiser undertook this scheme while tens of thousands of Americans were dying annually from misuse and overdoses of opioids.
Patients For Affordable Drugs has heard from patients and their families who struggle to afford Suboxone. Due to limited competition, Suboxone and its handful of generic alternatives are expensive, ranging $200-$500 a month per patient.
“Addiction is a deadly disease and I’m glad there is a medication that helps to combat it,” said Janice, a California mom who has struggled to help her son afford the medication. “But it shouldn’t be this costly.”