The following discussion describes a patent dispute in the pharmaceutical industry: 79 In 2008,…

The following discussion describes a patent dispute in the pharmaceutical industry: 79 In 2008, state and federal authorities were examining whether Abbott Laboratories violated antitrust laws in its efforts to prevent an Israeli company from successfully selling a generic version of its cholesterol medicine, Tri Cor. Although drug companies typically have 3 to 10 years of exclusive patent rights remaining when their products hit the market, they can often find ways to extend their monopolies by patenting slight improvements to those drugs. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia filed suit in federal court alleging that in addition to filing new patents on questionable improvements to TriCor, Abbott engaged in a practice known as “product switching.” This strategy involved retiring an existing drug and replacing it with a modified version that was marketed as “new and improved,” preventing pharmacists from substituting a generic for the branded drug when they filled prescriptions for it. Although this strategy is not illegal, the plaintiffs argued that Abbott employed it and other strategies solely to preserve its monopoly on TriCor. One year after TriCor hit the market in 1999, Israeli Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market a similar version of the drug. Abbott sued Teva for patent infringement, which triggered a 30-month waiting period during which the generic drug could not be launched while patent challenge

 

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