Health insurers, hospitals and generic-drug makers ask Congress to examine Allergan patent deal

Richard Drew | AP
Allergan CEO Brent Saunders is interviewed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

A coalition of 10 groups spanning hospitals, health insurers and generic-drug makers sent a letter to Congressional leaders Tuesday asking it to examine Allergan’s controversial patent deal with a Native American tribe, adding voices to a growing chorus denouncing the arrangement.

“This issue deserves the prompt attention of Congress, and we encourage you to vigorously apply your oversight authority,” wrote the group, which included America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Hospital Association and the Association for Accessible Medicines.

The letter was addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer.

The letter came after at least nine congressmen already raised objections to the deal, in which Allergan transferred patents to its $1.4 billion eye drug Restasis to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, whose sovereign immunity could shield it from certain patent challenges from generic-drug makers. The industry groups, in their letter, argued more companies will follow suit if Allergan is successful.

“Allergan’s transfer of patent ownership rights to the Saint Regis tribe is a brazen attempt to circumvent U.S. law and engineer a mechanism to maintain monopolistic high drug prices,” the group wrote.

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