US challenges patents on drugs to promote competition, including Ozempic

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking action against pharmaceutical companies by challenging patents on 20 brand name drugs, including the popular weight-loss injection Ozempic. The FTC sent warning letters to 10 drugmakers, alleging that certain patents filed by companies like Novo Nordisk, GlaxoSmithKline, and AstraZeneca are inaccurate or misleading.

Brand-name drugmakers use patents to protect their medicines and prevent generic versions from entering the market. However, the FTC claims that some companies are filing "bogus patent listings" to block competition and inflate drug prices, forcing consumers to pay high costs for essential medications.

Ozempic, initially developed to treat diabetes but now also approved for obesity, has seen a surge in prescribing and Medicare spending. Novo Nordisk, the drug's manufacturer, declined to comment on the FTC's actions.

This latest move by the FTC follows a similar challenge in September, where over 100 patents held by various drugmakers were questioned. Companies receiving warning letters have 30 days to withdraw or update their patent listings, or certify their legitimacy under penalty of perjury.

President Joe Biden's strategy to lower drug prices includes allowing Medicare to negotiate with drugmakers and permitting states to import cheaper drugs from other countries. The FTC's efforts to challenge patents are part of this broader initiative.

Overall, the FTC's actions are aimed at promoting competition and reducing drug prices for consumers. The pharmaceutical industry will likely face increased scrutiny as regulators continue to target practices that contribute to rising healthcare costs.


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