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The pricey Imbruvica cancer treatment that became available seven years ago could have its monopoly extended through 2036 thanks to dozens of patents and, as a result, consumers may be forced to spend an extra $41 billion for the medicine by then, according to a new analysis.

Since the first patent application was filed in 2006, the drug has been the subject of a blizzard of applications that has yielded no less than 88 patents. In fact, more than half of the 165 applications were filed after Food and Drug Administration approval in 2013, and most of those cover different indications or formulations, not the active ingredient in the drug itself.


The combined effect means that, even though the main patent on medication expires in 2026, lower-cost generic competition will not appear for nearly 10 more years. In all, patent exclusivity on Imbruvica, which has a $174,000 list price, will run at least 29 years, according to the analysis by Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge, or I-MAK, a nonprofit that studies drug patents.

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