Monday, long-time East Cobb resident Art Gardner (GOP), a patent attorney seeking election to the U.S. Senate in Georgia, proposed an innovative reform to the nation’s patent laws to address the artificially high price of prescription medicines in the U.S. Noting the alarmingly high prices paid in the U.S. compared to prices in similar countries for many drugs protected by patent, Gardner said “It is appalling that the U.S. consumer is forced to pay much, much more for the same medicine as consumers in similarly wealthy, industrialized countries. It is simply not right that we are being gouged while others pay much less.” Gardner proposes to lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of medicine.
To do that, Gardner proposes reforming the patent laws (something that few politicians know much about). “I have long considered it terribly wrong that we pay a monopolized market price for medicines covered by patents in the U.S., while in most other G7 countries the local (national) government sharply controls the maximum price that the pharmaceutical companies can charge. This causes consumers in the U.S. to pay much, much more for the same drugs as sold in other countries.” Indeed, this price disparity has created the cottage industry of people driving across the Mexico and Canada borders to buy cheaper drugs. Gardner notes that “this problem is caused by the interplay of patent laws, drug price regulation overseas, and single-payer systems overseas.” Gardner goes on to say “The net result is that the U.S. consumer is paying much more than he/she ought to and the foreign consumer is paying a good bit less than he/she ought to. So in effect, the U.S. consumer is subsidizing low drug costs for foreigners. To me, forcing the U.S. consumer to subsidize foreign drug prices is outrageous.”
Gardner proposes to make it "patent misuse" to charge much more in the United States for the same drug than in the rest of the G7. According to Gardner, “it would be presumptive patent misuse to charge more than 125% of the average price in the other 6 countries in the G7 and it would be conclusive patent misuse to charge more than 150%.” This innovative change would be a simple change in the U.S. patent laws and would be very impactful. Said Gardner, “If the patent is being "misused" in this way, the patent would be invalidated and/or unenforceable, opening up competition for generics. So the owner of a drug patent would have a strong interest in avoiding losing the protection of the patent and would hold down U.S. prices and/or drive up prices around the world. Either way, we (the U.S. consumers) would over time end up paying the real price of patented medicines, not the exaggerated price which includes a subsidy for foreigner consumers.”
More information about this is available at www.GardnerSenate.com.