WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) - Drugmaker AbbVie exploits the U.S. patent system to push up prices for its Humira rheumatoid arthritis drug and Imbruvica, a cancer drug, according to a U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee staff report issued on Tuesday.
AbbVie Inc's chief executive officer Richard Gonzalez is to testify Tuesday about prices for Humira, which have been increased to $77,000 for a year's supply, and Imbruvica, which now costs $181,529 for a year's supply, said the committee, which called Humira "the highest grossing drug in the world."
AbbVie partners with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Biotech to make Imbruvica, which treats mantle cell lymphoma and other cancers.
AbbVie made $16 billion from Humira from U.S. patients in 2020, the report said.
"Documents and information obtained by the committee indicate that AbbVie’s senior executives received larger bonuses by raising the price of Humira, Imbruvica, and other drugs," the report said, noting that U.S. patients tended to pay more than patients overseas.
The price increases meant that some U.S patients could not afford the medicines and stopped taking them, the report said.
In the case of Humira, the committee found that AbbVie obtained more than 200 patents on the medicine, sometimes called a patent thicket, and used those to prevent generics from entering the market even though the patent on Humira's active ingredient expired on December 31, 2016.
"AbbVie’s patent strategy is particularly abusive because it seeks to overwhelm potential competitors with the sheer number of patents on Humira regardless of whether individual patents were properly granted under U.S. law. If one patent is invalidated, AbbVie has another patent waiting," the report said.
AbbVie also reached settlements with competitors who wanted to bring a generic to market, a step that normally brings prices sharply down, which delayed their entry, the report said.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)