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Evergreening: An Ignored National Issue

Updated: Oct 7, 2020




Evergreening is any of various legal, business and technological strategies by which producers extend the lifetime of their patents that are about to expire, in order to retain royalties from them, by either taking out new patents.


Evergreening erases the purpose of patents in the first place. It isn’t about creativity and is just about capitalizing on the backs of those who can’t afford it.

Businesses often will make slight changes in their drugs that don’t impact the effects in order to extend their patents and stifle competition.


Various drugs have been raised to exorbitant prices due to evergreening


78% of drugs associated with new patents are not new drugs, but existing ones.

Insulin

The cost of insulin has gone up dramatically despite the fact the drug has been around for a century. The patent was sold to the University of Toronto for $1, but the cost for a type 1 diabetes patient to survive a month is $450. Companies have patented slight variations on biologics, drugs created via biological processes, in order to extend their patents. Biologics are extremely difficult for other companies due to cost, time, and a thicket of regulations, which prevent small drug companies from competing leading to absurd prices in the healthcare market today. Companies will often develop biosimilars in order to extend their patents making the problem even worse.


Epi Pen

The EpiPen is already on its fourth patent after 3 additions in the last six years after several patent extensions and is set to expire in 2025, 10 years after its original expiration date. In that time, the company behind it has raised its price over 500% percent from $50 to over $350 leaving millions of people unable to afford a life-saving drug. 1 in 50 Americans experience life-threatening allergies.


By Avik Belenje and William Liaw



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