Biologics: The New Antitrust Frontier

Posted by Social Science Research Network

Biologics: The New Antitrust Frontier

By Michael A. Carrier & Carl J. Minniti III (Rutgers University)

Abstract:      The pharmaceutical industry lies at the intersection of patent law, antitrust law, federal and state regulations, and complex markets. For the past several decades, courts and commentators have analyzed issues presented by brand-name and generic drug companies in the “small molecule” setting. But just as they have begun to comprehend the multiple moving parts, a new frontier has arisen involving large molecules known as “biologics.”

Biologics differ from small-molecule drugs along multiple axes. They are more expensive, costing hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. They cannot be precisely replicated, followed by “biosimilars” rather than generics. They are governed not by the Hatch-Waxman Act but by the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act. And they present a blank slate on which issues of innovation and competition will be hammered out in the decades to come. Given that biologics promise revolutionary advances like treatments for previously incurable diseases and cancer regimens offering substantial benefits over chemotherapy, the stakes could not be higher.

The small-molecule setting has been replete with collusive behavior such as “reverse payment” agreements by which brands and generics settle patent litigation and unilateral conduct by which brands modify their dr…

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