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WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed legislation to prevent drug companies from gaming the patent system to delay competition from cheaper generics, but members in both parties said they still have concerns about the reforms.

The measure also seeks to curb a practice of filing dozens of patents on drugs to forestall competition from generic drugs and biosimilars by restricting the number of patents that patent holders can contest. It’s an effort to address a tactic the courts haven’t been willing to curb: AbbVie recently won a legal challenge that accused the company of using a patent thicket to maintain a monopoly on the blockbuster drug Humira years after its basic patent expired. Humira, which treats inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, will face biosimilar competition for the first time this year. Its basic patent expired in 2016.


A second bill, the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act, would prohibit brand-name drug companies from paying generic and biosimilar drug makers in patent settlements to delay competition.

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