Aggressive litigation is Big Pharma’s go-to tactic to block Americans’ access to fairer drug prices. There are numerous examples of firms suing to keep prices of drugs included in Medicare negotiations sky high:
- Back in April 2023, Bristol Myers Squibb & Pfizer sued to block generic production of Eliquis, which is used to treat blood clots and prevent strokes. Average out-of-pocket spending per Part D enrollee on Eliquis was $441 in 2022 in the US, where Eliquis is priced at $7.30 per pill, compared to $2 in Germany, Spain and Switzerland.
- Merck sued Viatris in 2022 to block a generic Januvia. Merck won, limiting patients’ access to a generic which helps lower blood sugar in patients with Type II Diabetes. Januvia was priced at $15.70 per dose in the US in 2019, which is over 1000% higher than in international markets, where the average cost is $1.40 per dose. Januvia’s average out-of-pocket spending per Part D enrollee in the US in 2022 was $270.
- In 2022, Novartis sued Mylan, Alembic, and others to block generics of Entresto, which treats chronic heart failure, after previously suing Torrent Pharma to block its generic application. The most recent suit which found the Novartis combination patent to be invalid is still being challenged by Novartis. Entresto retails for $9.20 per pill in the US, compared to $2.82 in Australia, Canada and France. The US’s average out-of-pocket spending per Part D enrollee on Entresto in 2022 was $357.
- In 2020, Amgen sued to prevent Novartis’ development of a biosimilar version of Enbrel, the arthritis & autoimmune condition medication. The average out-of-pocket spending per Part D enrollee on Enbrel in the US was $921 in 2022. Enbrel’s list price in the US in 2018 was $1,196, while its average list price in other peer nations was $287.31.
- AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson —co-developers of blood cancer drug Imbruvica— have blocked attempts to bring generics to the market on multiple occasions. J&J’s subsidiary Janssen sued Hetero USA over a generic back in 2018 while AbbVie sued BeiGene this summer. Imbruvica is approximately $158 per pill in the US, which is double the cost of countries like Australia, Canada, and France. The average out-of-pocket spending per Part D enrollee in the US on Imbruvica was $5,247 in 2022.
- Johnson & Johnson sued Amgen over a proposed biosimilar of Stelara, a common treatment for Crohn’s disease, which resulted in a settlement allowing the biosimilar to be sold no later than January, 2025. Average out-of-pocket spending per Part D enrollee on Stelara was $2,058 in 2022. In 2018, the list price of Stelara in the US was $16,598, almost 4.6 times its average price of $3,611 in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland.
So while PhRMA is trying to convince you that the US government is engaging in price setting, what they aren’t telling you is that pharmaceutical companies have been trying to keep prices high on these drugs for years. They’re pulling out all the stops, employing Trump administration officials, BigLaw firms, and judges with huge conflicts of interest to keep drug prices high, since now, their lobbying against fairer price interventions has finally failed.