March 25, 2013

High court weighs drug companies' generics policy

The FTC wants big drug companies to stop paying others to delay releasing their generic versions.

Jesse J. Holland and Linda A. Johnson / The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is struggling with whether it should stop pharmaceutical corporations from paying generic drug competitors to delay releasing their cheaper versions of brand-name drugs.

Justices heard arguments from federal officials Monday that these deals can be anticompetitive and keeps lower-cost generic drugs out of American hands. But pharmaceutical companies say these deals save litigation costs and often bring generics to market faster.

A government lawyer argued the companies should be forced to prove that their deals serve a purpose beyond simply paying a generic drug's maker not to challenge a brand-name drug's patent.

But a pharmaceutical company lawyer says they shouldn't be forced to litigate each generic vs. brand-name drug patent lawsuit to conclusion when a settlement can be reached.

Justices will make a decision later this year.

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