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New study reveals how Big Pharma protects its patents and its profits

Ever hear of the term “product hopping”? Even if you haven’t, you may have been affected.

Becker’s Hospital Review reports that pharmaceutical companies used this anti-competitive tactic to protect their monopolies, costing the U.S. health system (i.e. all of us) $4.7 billion a year on just five brand-name drugs.

Here’s how it works: Shortly before a drug’s exclusive patent is about to expire, the drugmaker moves patients to a reformulated version of the drug that is covered by a new patent, delivering the company exclusive rights and high profits for several more years.

The point is to protect product monopolies and  prevent generic competition. A study by Matrix Global Advisors, an economic policy firm in Washington, D.C., identified “product hopping” involving these brand-name drugs: Prilosec, TriCor, Suboxone, Doryx and Namenda.

“Patients and the health care system stand to save billions if policymakers end product-hopping gamesmanship,” the study’s authors concluded.

Do you suspect you’ve been a victim of “product hopping”? Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health.