Zachary D Caplan JD, attorney at law firm in Philadelphia that filed amicus brief on behalf of drug wholesalers and pharmacies in FTC v. Actavis
Arthur Caplan PhD, Division of Medical Ethics, NYU Langone Medical Center
Amidst all the news about various Supreme Court decisions there is one that ought not be overlooked for its impact both on public health and healthcare reform—FTC v. Actavis. Today the Court decided, by a vote of five to three, that Big Pharma companies can be sued over deals with generic companies to not bring generic drugs to market. In so deciding, the Court endorsed the idea that Big Pharma companies with weak patents on their drugs may not pay off other companies that want to make cheaper generic versions to not do so. This practice, known as pay-for-delay, has run rampant in the pharmaceutical industry over the last two decades costing American consumers billions and restricting access to cheaper versions of drugs.
In FTC v. Actavis, the Federal Trade Commission had alleged a pay-for-delay arrangement between Solvay Pharmaceuticals and Actavis that was intended to keep Actavis from producing a generic version of Solvay’s blockbuster AndroGel testosterone drug. A lower court—the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals—dismissed the FTC’s complaint. Now the Supreme Court has reversed that dismissal.