Drug prices

Bipartisan Senate bill takes aim at drug companies' "evergreening"

This image is a split scree between Sen. Cassidy and Sen. Durbin, who are both standing in suits and talking with one hand raised.
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Photos: Getty Images

Sens. Dick Durbin and Bill Cassidy — a Democrat and a Republican — introduced a new bill yesterday that would tackle evergreening, the process by which branded drug companies extend their monopolies by tacking on additional patents.

Where it stands: While the bill may reduce legal barriers to generic market entry, "someone still has to go through all the trouble and expense to overturn the patent," said Robin Feldman, a professor at UC Hastings.

4 pharma companies saved $7 billion from GOP tax law

Two people walking outside of a building with a Merck sign.
Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Four pharmaceutical companies — Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck and Abbott Laboratories — collectively kept $7 billion in tax savings in 2018 due to Republicans' 2017 corporate tax overhaul, according to a new Oxfam report.

The bottom line: Oxfam's results mirror our reporting, which shows pharmaceutical companies in particular have benefited from bringing back billions of dollars in overseas profits that have sat untaxed. However, this report says the tax savings have not led to other social goods, like more research investment in new drugs or lower drug prices.