Practical Technology

for practical people.

Killer patents


n the computer technology business, we tend to see patents as being bad for developers and business. What we don’t realize that the problems we have with Microsoft’s bogus patent claims against Linux and Oracle’s patent-based attack against Google are nothing compared to the evils that IP patents bring to the pharmacy business.

Take, for example, the assault that the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) is now mounting on Abbot Labs. PUBPAT is formally asking the United States Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine eight Abbot patents relating to the critical HIV/AIDS drug Ritonavir, aka Norvir.

Ritonavir, a protease inhibitor, was one of the early HIV/AID antiviral drugs. Today, as HIV has grown tougher, it is now more widely used to enhance the efficacy of other protease inhibitors in AIDs drug cocktails. In this role, it’s still a critical HIV/AIDS drug.

It’s also, thanks to patents, a lot more expensive than it should be. The example that PUBPAT cites, which tells you all you need to know, is that back in “December 2003, Abbott raised the price of its Norvir brand version of Ritonavir from $1.71 a day to $8.57 a day.”

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