Innovator, Biosimilar Drug Makers Double Down on Donations to Lawmakers

September 14, 2019
The Center for Biosimilars Staff

Kaiser Health News, in its latest update to its campaign contributions tracking tool, reports that Senator Chris Coons, D-Delaware, received the most contributions from the pharmaceutical industry during the first half of 2019, at $103,000. Coons, together with Senator Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, who himself received $102,000 this cycle, released a draft of a patent reform bill in May, and concerns among drug makers about the eventual passage of that bill have run high.

While the US election is more than 1 year away, drug makers on both the biosimilar and innovator sides of the industry are hoping to see their interests represented and are giving substantial sums to sitting lawmakers.

Kaiser Health News (KHN), in its latest update to its campaign contributions tracking tool, reports that Senator Chris Coons, D-Delaware, received the most contributions from the pharmaceutical industry during the first half of 2019, at $103,000.

One potential reason for that significant influx of cash is the fact that Coons, together with Senator Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, who himself received $102,000 this cycle, released a draft of a patent reform bill in May, and concerns among drug makers about the eventual passage of that bill have run high.

The proposed legislation seeks to update the legal standard for patent eligibility and, say the senators, guard against overly broad patent claims that could be abused. The bill would change the law in response to recent Supreme Court decisions that established a test for evaluating patent eligibility, and it would explicitly define “useful” inventions that would give courts a new standard to determine whether a patent is directed toward eligible subject matter.

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), currently, the patent system is rife with uncertainty and unpredictability and creates unacceptable risks for innovators. The ABA says that it supports the Coons and Tillis reforms as a means to reduce risk to entrepreneurs. However, the Coalition Against Patent Abuse, which has members that include Blue Cross Blue Shield, the biosimilar and generic group the Association for Accessible Medicines, and America’s Health Insurance Plans, says that the bill “empowers Big Pharma at the expense of everyday Americans,” and urges Congress to reject the legislation.

KHN’s data also reveal that the drug maker that has engaged in the most spending in 4 of the past 7 election cycles is biosimilar developer Pfizer, which has given more than $8 million in total and $263,886 this cycle. Fellow biosimilar developer Mylan, which will merge with Pfizer’s Upjohn unit, increased its spending this cycle, giving $113,000, or more than it gave in the previous 2 years combined.

The Association for Accessible Medicines gave $12,500 to 8 lawmakers this cycle, while the innovator drug group Biotechnology Innovation Organization gave $102,673 to more than 50 lawmakers. Innovator drug group the Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, gave $71,500 this cycle to more than 50 lawmakers.

Related Content:

News | Policy | Business