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It’s hardly unprecedented for one federal agency to encroach on another’s turf. But the latest intra-executive-branch dustup is particularly eyebrow-raising.

This fall, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock wrote a letter to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to share “areas of concern” about patents issued for prescription medications.


Though couched in the measured tones of bureaucratese, the letter sent a clear signal to the USPTO: Set aside the industry-neutral, congressionally mandated criteria currently in place for deciding whether to grant a patent and weaken intellectual property protections for the drug industry.

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