Patent Extensions Stir Protests

Published Online: Saturday, October 1, 2005

Generic drug industry leaders are raising concerns about controversial new legislation designed to enhance homeland security by helping pharmaceutical manufacturers overcome the risks associated with bioterrorism drug development. The bill, which was being drafted by Sen Richard Burr (R, NC) at press time, would amend the year-old federal BioShield program by giving drug companies patent extensions for drugs that they develop to counter bioterrorism.

Burr's patent extension plan is believed to be considerably narrower than a similar proposal advanced by Sen Joseph Lieberman (D, CT) earlier this year. It has nevertheless drawn stiff opposition from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA).

"We do not support patent extensions because they would place the burden of the cost of BioShield on America's sick and elderly," a GPhA spokesman said. Instead, the group is urging Congress to consider other incentives to encourage the development of bioterrorism drugs, including special new limits on product liability for the developers of these products.

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