No, not Bud Abbott, but Abbott Laboratories, who just lost a $1.67 billion dollar jury-awarded judgment against Johnson & Johnson for patent infringement. Humira, Abbott’s pharmaceutical that blocks tumor necrosis factor, related to arthritis, is the culprit, as the jury found that Abbott had stolen part of a study J&J did in 1994 to apply to its drug.

At this point, things get hazy, because of a couple of reasons. One, I didn’t know research could be patented. Two, I didn’t know human antibodies could be patented. Three, I didn’t know that there were some things drug companies could keep from other drug companies longer than a few years; what’s the deal with generic drugs then?

What’s odd is that I don’t have much problem with the judgment of $1.67 billion, which does seem high. We don’t know just how much money drug companies make when they market these things, and it was mentioned that J&J’s competing product, Remicade (sounds like something we’d drink in the summer, doesn’t it?) made $1.03 billion in the first quarter of this year.

However, it’s figures like these that teach us just why pharmaceutical prices are high, and why they’ll continue to stay high. Research takes time and is expensive, and these companies have to try to get their money back as much as possible. We don’t often hear of the testing that’s done on something that they end up determining they just can’t release to the public, but we know there are way more failures than successes.

Still, the judgment caused a minor tremor, and nothing else in the pharmaceutical world. That also tells us a lot. Who reading this blog would be able to sleep after getting hit with a judgment like this?

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