Tahir Amin: AbbVie's Patents on Humira

Tahir Amin, DipLP, cofounder and director of intellectual property of Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge (I-MAK), discusses AbbVie's patents on the innovator adalimumab, Humira.


A recent report from I-MAK said that AbbVie is one of the worst patent offenders in pharma. Why is that?

So as I said, as our study found, AbbVie is one of the worst offenders in pharma because of the number of patents it’s accumulated.

We did a report called “Overpatented, Overpriced” where we looked at the top 12 selling drugs in the United States. Of all those 12 drugs, AbbVie has the highest number of patents for its drug. On average, we found of those top 12 selling drugs, 125 patent applications on average across those drugs, and we’ve seen price increases between 2012 and 2016—at least 68% pricing increase over that period on average.

So in that sense, AbbVie has been the most egregious actor when it comes to what we would call overpatenting deliberately. I think it’s important that if you look at the time scale AbbVie filed these patents, 89% were filed after the first approval in 2002, and even more outrageously, they filed 122 of those applications after the first patent expired in 2014.

That suggests to me that this is more than what we might call “inventions” going on in the Humira space, but that these were strategic patents in order to delay competition.

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