Patents in Healthcare: Who Benefits?
We have recently seen the release of a stunning allegation of patent infringement by a big pharma company. See further background courtesy of Yale law prof Amy Kapczynski here. (Even more here.) Unusually in this case, the patent holder is the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The government often licenses patents to industry (and holds quite a few of them), but no deal is in place with Gilead Sciences, maker of Truvada, an HIV drug. The medication is priced at up to $2,000 for a one-month supply, though the cost is reportedly much less than that, and the company notes that only approximately 20% of the patients who could benefit from it are receiving it now (up from 10% a couple years back). State Medicaid programs note that if they had access to the medication at lower prices, they could provide it to many more patients who need it.
The president called for eradicating HIV in the US by 2030 in his State of the Union address, but the current administration “has a mixed record” on this front (“including proposing changes to Medicare that would hit HIV-positive seniors especially hard, and firing all members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in 2018”).