AbbVie is a great example of why the government is attacking pharma

  • A Humira prescription costs $38,000 a year.  In 2012, the drug cost about $19,000 a year.
  • An analysis released last month by my organization, the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge, shows that there have been an astonishing 247 patents filed on Humira.
  • There are an average of 125 patent applications filed and 71 patents granted for each of the 12 highest-grossing drugs in America.
  • 247 patent applications have been filed on Humira in the U.S. with the aim of delaying competition for 39 years.
  • In 2016 the $3.3 billion spent on the drug by Medicare and Medicaid accounted for 31 cents of every dollar spent on Humira in the U.S.

When it comes to big pharma greed AbbVie is a great poster company.  Total spending by Medicare and Medicaid increased 266% on Humira between 2012 and 2016, and the average spending on Humira per person more than doubled from $16,000 to $33,000.  To help keep the cash coming in AbbVie filed 89% of the total patent applications on Humira in the U.S. after the drug was first approved and on the market.

What PhRMA won’t tell you is that AbbVie’s pricing practices are protected by an aggressive evergreening patent strategy to extend the life cycle of Humira in order to deliberately delay competition. The overpatenting of Humira and other medicines puts a strain not only America’s public health care budgets, but also undermines the health and financial well-being of individuals and families throughout the country.

Humira has generated over $100 billion in sales for AbbVie since its launch in 2002. Last year AbbVie reaped $18 billion in global sales of Humira – $12 billion of which came from U.S. payers. Humira alone is responsible for two-thirds of AbbVie’s total revenue.

Consider the following:

  • There are 125 patent applications filed and 71 granted patents per drug.
  • Prices have increased by 68% since 2012, and only one of the top twelve drugs has actually decreased in price.
  • There are 38 years of attempted patent protection blocking generic competition sought by drugmakers for each of these top grossing drugs – or nearly double the twenty year monopoly intended under U.S. patent law.
  • These top grossing drugs have already been on the U.S. market for 15 years.
  • Over half of the top twelve drugs in America have more than 100 attempted patents per drug.

Let’s not also forget that Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie Inc will pay a total of $25 million to resolve allegations that Abbott paid kickbacks to doctors in exchange for prescribing the cholesterol drug TriCor and promoted the medication for unapproved purposes.

It’s time for an intervention.