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Many Texas residents who have serious allergies rely on EpiPens to give them immediate relief when they exhibit symptoms of anaphylactic shock. The devices dispense epinephrine, which opens up the airway by relaxing its muscles and are invaluable to the patients who need them. According to patent law, Mylan NV will not see competition in the sale of the life-saving devices until 2025 as a result of the patents the company holds regarding the devices.

The company benefits from four patents that restrict competition from other drug makers. Mylan inherited the first patent when it purchased a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Dey, who owned the right to sell the EpiPen after it was approved in 1987. Meridian Medical Technologies, which is a subsidiary of Pfizer, manufactures the product and applied for a patent in April 2005 that aimed to block a key competitor. Since then, Mylan has acquired additional patents that help provide the company with a monopoly on the product.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted that first key patent, which covered the automatic injector, in Nov. 2008. Meridian sued another drug manufacturer, Teva, in 2009 for patent infringement. Between 2010 and 2014, three more patents were issued. Some question whether the three additional patents were for actual improvements and innovations or were designed to extend the monopoly they provide.

Companies and individuals often layer their patents in order to extend the exclusivity they allow under patent law. Further, individuals and companies here in Texas and across the country rely on those laws to protect their rights to their inventions and ideas. In order to get the maximum benefit from the patent process, anyone wanting one should consult with an attorney prior to beginning the process.

Source: stltoday.com, "Behind the EpiPen controversy are questions about patents granted to drugmaker", Samantha Liss, Sept. 4, 2016

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