Allergan Drug Deal with Mohawk Indians May Keep Prices Higher for Consumers, Public Programs

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In case you missed it, the pharmaceutical company. Allergan, has found another unique way to extend patents on its drugs and maintain high profit margins.   Allergan announced recently it has transferred its patents on the very lucrative eye drug, Restasis, to the Mohawk Indian nation at Akwesasne at the US-Canadian border near Massena, New York.   The drug company paid the Mohawks $15 million to handle the patents.  The tribe which runs a casino on the reservation will lease the drug patents back to Allergan.

Allergan transferred the patents to protect them from being reviewed by a patent review board which does not have jurisdiction over patents held by “sovereign” entities.  That is why the company settled on the Mohawk tribe which has another patent agreement with a company unrelated to pharmaceuticals, according to a September 8 New York Times report.  Patent issues are tied up in court proceedings which could negate the Allergan-Mohawk deal according to the Times.

The company said it is trying to avoid having to be subject to the patent board as well as be challenged in courts over its patents. The Restasis patent for its active ingredient expired expired in 2014.     If Allergan and other companies succeed in using sovereign Indian tribes to shield their patents, generic competition could well be delayed and consumers would not benefit from competition. State governments and all public programs could also pay more if they continue to pay for the brand drugs without competitors.

Patients for Affordable Drugs, ( a national advocacy group fighting high drug prices, says that patients without insurance can pay several hundred dollars a month for Restasis and cited some consumers paying $1200 for a three moth prescription.  The organization wrote a letter to PHARMA, the drug company trade group, asking them to stop companies from using Native American nation’s sovereignty to avoid patent review.

It is hard to fault the Mohawk tribe though for being willing to enter into this deal which provides a large sum of revenue unrelated to casino gambling and tobacco sales which tribes have relied on in the past.


Village Movement Has Momentum in New York, Conference Set Thursday in Albany

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About 200 persons have signed up for a conference on the Village Movement in New York State which is taking place in Albany at the Hearst Media Center on Thursday.    The event is sponsored by the Albany Guardian Society and will bring together representatives of villages and others interested in the movement.  Villages are forming to help mostly older residents to remain living independently with support in the community.  Village representatives from Rhinebeck, Albany, Ithaca and Glens Falls are planning to attend and speakers from the national Village to Village Network will be on hand.

The Village Movement is noting its 15th anniversary and is sponsoring a special webinar on September 26th with famed author Dr. Atul Gawande who wrote the bestselling book Being Mortal about how to make medicine more patient-centered, especially for those at the end of life.

Meanwhile, a meeting of stakeholders for the Age Friendly Albany County project was held last week.  The project will now be breaking into smaller groups at its next meeting to review the eight domains of livability as described by the World Health Organization (WHO).   Next Monday, September 18, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy will host his annual Senior Summit which will include short presentations on the Age Friendly project which he announced at last year’s summit.

Thousands of Seniors in Florida Nursing Homes Stay Put During Storm

Many seniors are staying put in nursing homes in Florida.   A study concluded that nursing home residents who are moved during a storm are twice as likely to die if moved than if they were able to stay put.   For many, staying in the nursing home is the best option and the homes make preparations days in advance.   Here is a link to a CNN story from Florida.

NYS Court of Appeals Says No Right to Doctor Assisted Suicide in State

In a unanimous 5-0 ruling, the State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state,  has ruled against doctor assisted suicide.   The court rejected the arguments of three terminally ill plaintiffs, two of whom have died since the case began.  The court said that individuals have the right to reject treatment but that having a doctor prescribe life ending drugs is not a right guaranteed.

Supporters of  physician assisted suicide are continuing to push for the State Legislature to enact a law making it legal for doctors to prescribe the drugs.   The bill had passed the Assembly Health Committee in 2016 but was not acted upon in that committee during the 2017 session.   Assisted suicide has been approved in a handful of states either through legislation, a public referendum or via the courts.

Here is a link to a media story for more details