Senators push to ban pay-tor-delay deals

WASHINGTON — Republican and Democratic senators have re-introduced legislation that would ban patent settlements between branded and generic drug companies that critics allege violate antitrust laws, according to published reports.

Reuters reported that Sens. Amy Klo-buchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were sponsoring a bill to ban so-called "pay-for-delay" settlements. Critics of such settlements say they delay patients' access to cheaper generic drugs, while drug makers say the settlements are often necessary to allow generics to launch ahead of branded drugs' loss of patent protection, and that delaying generic launch beyond patent expiry would be illegal anyway.

Branded and generic drug makers alike have strongly opposed attempts to ban the patent settlements, saying that requiring cases to go to trial will only further delay the availability of generics. Industry opposition has contributed to the defeat of previous bills to ban them, Reuters noted.

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