Drug Patents Supported by Doctors, PhRMA Survey Finds
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America yesterday released a survey finding that 75% of 400 doctors polled think patent protections are "very important" to new drug development, CongressDaily reports. The poll, part of an "effort to stave off potential changes to current drug patent laws," surveyed physicians across the country and had a five-point margin of error. According to the poll, two-thirds of doctors said that "weakening" patent protection would hinder new drug development, and 80% said that brand-name drug firms "deserve the most credit" for new treatments. The survey also asked doctors about current patent laws: 56% said current law "reward[s] innovation" while allowing affordable generic drugs to enter the market quickly; 17% said current law favors brand-name pharmaceuticals over generics; and 22% said generic companies are favored. To publicize the survey, PhRMA yesterday launched an ad campaign in Washington, D.C.-based newspapers (Fulton, CongressDaily, 4/22). The full-page ad contains a photograph of a physician and text saying, "Strong Patent Laws are Essential to American Healthcare -- Just Ask Your Doctor." Under the picture, the ad details the survey results and says that doctors "in overwhelming numbers, understand the vital role" of prescription drugs and that "strong patent protections are key to drug innovation and development" (PhRMA ad text, Washington Times, 4/23). The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hear testimony today on whether generic drugs are at a disadvantage under current law. The committee will review legislation first sponsored two years ago by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that is designed to close loopholes that allow brand-name firms to keep generics off the market by filing court challenges. However, PhRMA Senior Vice President and General Counsel Russell Bantham said current law is "balance[d]," calling it "very successful for patients, very successful for generics and very successful for innovator companies" (CongressDaily, 4/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.