So if you’re like me (and you probably are at least a little; I have no delusions, at this point it’s mostly just my friends and occasionally my mom reading this blog), most of the SCOTUS-related news on your RSS feed has been everyone freaking out over how the Court’s going to hear cases on DOMA and Prop 8. Scalia didn’t help matters with his latest dickishness. But there’s another case relevant to us, guys!
(I say relevant to us because if you’re like me, and we’ve established that you probably are at least a little, then you probably take at least one medication on a regular basis.)
Next year, the Court is going to hear a case about medications, namely drug manufacturers who are paying the companies that make generics to keep said generics off the market. The FTC is arguing that the drug manufacturers are, by these pay-for-delay deals, artificially and inappropriately eliminating competition; the Chairman, Jon Leibowitz, says that while the drug companies involved do great by this whole arrangement, they do so by screwing over consumers, who might have to pay 90% more.
Sidebar: that savings isn’t necessarily worth it; Teva’s generic Wellbutrin was recently recalled because it was found to be so much less effective, which is a polite way of saying that this antidepressant that was actually making people more depressed, anxious, and suicidal. My insurance company switched me to a generic Lexapro as soon as it came on the market earlier this year, and it was great news for my wallet, but within a couple of weeks I was a complete emotional mess because it was so useless. But, then, I wouldn’t be surprised if this artificial suppression of generics were also related to proliferation of ineffective generics.
I mean, I don’t think there’s even a question that Leibowitz is right. Let’s compare quotes, for one thing.
These pay-for-delay deals are win-win for the drug companies, but big losers for U.S. consumers and taxpayers.
—Jon Leibowitz, FTC Chairman
This case could determine how an entire industry does business because it would dramatically affect the economics of each decision to introduce a new generic drug. The current industry paradigm of challenging patents on branded drugs in order to bring new generics to market as soon as possible has produced $1.06 trillion in savings over the past 10 years.
—Ralph G. Neas, Generic Pharmaceutical Association President
If you’re using “paradigm” in your statement — really, more generally, if you’re just relying on marketing buzzwords when you’re trying to present your case to America — you don’t actually have a case. Pretty sure that’s in the Constitution somewhere, so you know right from the get-go that you’re gonna have trouble with the originalists.
Anyway, like I said at the beginning, I know we’re all freaking out about the gay rights cases, which is understandable. But if you get bored with that, I submit that this is a pretty good place to direct your liberal Supreme Court freakout energies instead. You gotta keep it fresh, you know? And when that expensive brand anti-anxiety med helps calm you down, you’ll know that you’re really getting your money’s worth.
- Scalia Defends Comparing Sodomy to Murder (slate.com)
- Justices to Take Up Generic Drug Case (nytimes.com)
- FDA Asks For Voluntary Recall Of Popular Generic Antidepressant (abcnews.go.com)