Washington, DC - January 29, 2004, -- Today Essential Inventions, Inc., asked Secretary Thompson to exercise "March-In" powers under the federal Bayh-Dole Act, and issue licenses to use patents needed to manufacturer generic versions of Xalatan, a treatment for glaucoma, and Norvir, a treatment for AIDS. Patents on both drugs were obtained as a consequence of grants from the US NIH.
Full copies of the March-In petitions are on the web at http://www.essentialinventions.org.
The petition alleges that Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories charge prices that are unreasonable, in violation of a seldom-used federal law on the commercialization of federally funded inventions. According to Essential Inventions President James Love: "Pfizer charges U.S. consumers from 2 to 5 times more for Xalatan than most consumers in Canada or Europe pay. Tommy Tompson can change this with a stroke of the pen, by insisting that federally funded inventions not be priced higher at home than in other developed economies. Abbott is trying to make everyone who uses non-Abbott AIDS drugs pay 400 percent more for Norvir -- this is both price gauging and anticompetitive conduct. "
According to Sean Flynn, a lawyer for Essential Inventions, "The Bayh-Dole March-In law has been on the books since 1980, but no one has ever petitioned to make a federally funded medicine more affordable for U.S. consumers. These are precisely the type of abusive pricing problems the Bayh-Dole Actís March-In clauses were meant to remedy. U.S. consumers should not have to pay higher prices than Canadians or Europeans for inventions Americans fund with their taxes. The Act can be used to protect AIDS patients from Abbott's attempts to monopolize the market for protease inhibitors."
"Anticipating and sharing concerns over the need for more research and development, we are asking Thompson to require each generic producer of Xalatan or Norvir to contribute to an R&D Fund, in the amount of $5 per prescription for glaucoma or $.004 per milligram for Norvir. If Thompson accepts the petition, the price of Xalatan and Norvir will both fall dramatically, but total R&D investments will increase." said Love.
FMI: James Love (202-387-8030; mobile 202-361-3040; James.Love@CPTech.org)
Sean Flynn, (202-387-8030, mobile 202-294-5749; Sean.Flynn@CPTech.org
Joy Spencer, 202-387-8030; cell: 703-727-6761