WASHINGTON — Lawmakers quietly tucked a boost for the pharmaceutical industry in the massive, end-of-year spending package they unveiled late Monday — a surprising turn for a Congress that has, at least rhetorically, pushed to rein in pharma’s high prices.

The provision, just three lines and 17 words in a 1173-page bill, would effectively expand the definition of biologic drugs, a category that includes presumably more complicated medicines made from living cells. Biologics get 12 years of patent protection, while so-called small-molecule medicines get five years, and the expansion would mean more new drugs would fit into the more-protected category. That would translate into bigger profits for drug makers and longer waits for consumers eager for cheaper generic drugs.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT Plus. To get you started, enjoy 50% off your first 3 months!

GET STARTED

What is it?

STAT Plus is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • Online intelligence briefings
  • Frequent opportunities to engage with veteran beat reporters and industry experts
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

Your daily dose of news in health and medicine

Privacy Policy