McCaskill to PhRMA: Are You Comfortable With Allergan’s Action With Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe?

Senator questions lobbying industry giant after pharmaceutical company games system to avoid patent review

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wrote the President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)—the most prominent and powerful trade group in the pharmaceutical industry—after a recent deal between Allergan and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe to block administrative challenges to Allergan’s patent for the drug Restasis. The deal will make it more difficult for other companies to challenge Allergan’s patent and potentially create generic versions of the eye medicine.

“This is one of the most brazen and absurd loopholes I’ve ever seen, and it should be illegal,” McCaskill said. “Given its recent comments regarding corporate responsibility, PhRMA can and should play a role in telling its members that this action isn’t appropriate, and I hope they do that.”

In the deal, Allergan transferred patents to Restasis, a blockbuster eye medicine, to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, which has now used tribal sovereignty to block a challenge concerning the validity of Allergan’s patent. McCaskill’s letter asks PhRMA to review whether that action is consistent with the mission of the organization and its recent commitment to addressing pricing issues and encouraging responsible corporate practices.

“I urge you to review whether the recent actions Allergan has taken are consistent with the mission of your organization,” McCaskill wrote to PhRMA President and CEO Stephen Ubl. “More broadly, I ask that PhRMA review whether actions to block patent challenges through claims of tribal sovereign immunity align with PhRMA efforts to promote innovation and discourage predatory pricing practices and anticompetitive conduct.”

During McCaskill’s time as the top Democrat on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, she joined Committee Chairman Susan Collins to launch an in-depth investigation into prescription drug price increases.

A copy of McCaskill letter is available HERE.

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