Senators place blame for sky-high drug prices on abuse of the patent system

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WASHINGTON — The drug industry’s top lobbying group on Tuesday faced fierce questioning at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that explored whether abuse of the patent system is responsible for keeping prescription drug prices sky-high in the United States.

The patent system is meant to reward innovation by allowing drugmakers to exclusively sell new medications on the market for a set period of time — typically 20 years. 

During this time, other companies can’t make generic versions of the drug, severely limiting competition.

Senators across the political spectrum on Tuesday accused drug companies of abusing the system.