ALEXANDRIA, Va. — On Capitol Hill, lawmakers say they want to lower drug prices. The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has implored the pharma industry to “end the shenanigans.” And at the White House, President Trump says the time to do something about drug prices is now.
But the real power in Washington may lie across the Potomac.
The newly installed director of the Patent and Trademark Office, the soft-spoken Andrei Iancu, could rein in drug makers in more direct fashion than perhaps any other individual in Washington. Unlike the others, he holds substantial sway over an intellectual property system that, critics say, has allowed drug makers to extend their monopolies through legal but questionable tactics — by making slight modifications to products and then filing for new patents, for example, or by working to curtail quicker challenges to their patent in favor of longer, drawn-out litigation in the courts.