Feb 10, 2020 - Health

Why Biogen's generic drug patent win matters

Mylan is itching to make a generic version of Biogen's popular multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera, but that won't be happening for a while now that federal patent reviewers turned down Mylan's patent challenge.

The big picture: The victory for Biogen not only secures several more years of monopoly pricing for the company — Biogen has a history of raising Tecfidera's list price by at least 5% per year — but also likely will create a higher baseline price for when Tecfidera generics finally come out.

  • "Every year that goes by when a generic is delayed is another 6+% increase in the price the generic will cost when it finally hits the market," University of Pittsburgh professor and pharmaceutical expert Walid Gellad tweeted last week.

Go deeper: Higher prices for brand-name drugs inevitably lead to higher prices for generics

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A tale of two drug patent cases

Biogen scored a major patent win with its multiple sclerosis drug. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The U.S. Patent and Appeal Board this week handed down mixed rulings in a pair of important cases involving drug patents.

Why it matters: The patent system is the foundation of drug companies' ability to keep their prices high, and these specific rulings will affect access and cost for two drugs that treat serious conditions — HIV and multiple sclerosis.

Go deeperArrowFeb 7, 2020 - Health

When a generic drug doesn't do much to lower costs for patients

Photo: Shana Novak/Getty Images

A generic version of Copaxone, one of the most popular drugs to treat multiple sclerosis, didn't do much to lower costs for patients, NPR reports.

The big picture: MS drugs cost $70,000 a year, on average, and some prices have increased to five times what they were when the drugs were first approved by the FDA.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020

Blues plans invest in new generic drug company

A new company will sell generic medicines at cost. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

Eighteen Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers are investing a combined $55 million to build a new generic drug company as a subsidiary of the nonprofit Civica Rx. The firm will focus on manufacturing generics people get at the pharmacy.

Between the lines: Civica and the Blues aren't disclosing which drugs they want to make, so it's unclear how much effect this company will have. But the investment highlights the broad desire to counter generic companies that are accused of price-gouging.

Go deeperArrowJan 23, 2020