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For the second time this month, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has taken a tougher stand toward drugmakers that make small changes to their medicines in order to extend monopolies, which can result in medications costing more.

The topic has percolated for years amid complaints that drug companies regularly file inconsequential claims to win extra patent protections and that the PTO has failed to act on those concerns. But the matter gained traction last year when the Biden administration issued an executive order arguing that patent laws were used “misused to inhibit or delay” competition from lower-cost generic drugs.

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