our Democratic lawmakers have asked the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate a highly unusual deal in which Allergan recently sold half a dozen patents for the Restasis eye drops to the St. Regis Mohawk tribe.

The company reached the deal because the tribe has sovereignty in the U.S., which means the Mohawks are immune from certain legal claims that generic drug makers typically use to challenge patents held by their brand-name rivals. Such a deal has never been undertaken previously by a drug maker.

This is a STAT Plus article and you can unlock it by subscribing to STAT Plus today. It's easy! Your first 30 days are free and if you don't enjoy your subscription you can cancel any time.
Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

  • Hi Ed. There is an important legal distinction here. There is sovereign immunity granted to the states by the 11th Amendment, which pretty much makes it immutable. On the other hand Tribal immunity is granted by an Act of Congress, therefore can also be revoked by another Act of Congress. These kinds of activities by the Mohawks would certainly qualify them for revocation.

    • Hi Pharmvet1,

      Yes, as I’ve noted in previous coverage, Congress could revoke or alter the status, but given this tribal revenue is a politically sensitive issue, it is not clear whether it would be pursued.

      Perhaps some lawmaker might introduce a bill, but I’m not certain such an effort would gain any traction, unless in the interim, this deal or another like it is considered to be a sham transaction, which is another discussion entirely.

      All best,
      ed at pharmalot

Sign up for our Morning Rounds newsletter

Your daily dose of what’s new in health and medicine.