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In a victory for generic drug makers, a federal court judge temporarily blocked a controversial California law that bans so-called pay-to-delay deals between pharmaceutical companies, a contentious issue that has factored into the larger debate over the cost of prescription medicines.

The ruling came in response to arguments by the Association of Affordable Medicines, which has been seeking to overturn the law ever since it went into effect in the fall of 2019. The state became the first in the nation to outlaw pay-to-delay deals, a step California officials said was necessary to prevent drug companies from thwarting competition and maintaining higher prices.


In these deals, a brand-name drug maker settles a patent lawsuit by paying cash or transferring something else of value to an erstwhile generic rival, which agrees to delay launching a copycat medicine until a specific date in the future. This gives the brand-name drug maker more time to sell its medicine without lower-cost competition.

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