The United States Senate has reached an agreement to hold a confirmation vote on Andrei Iancu (left), President Trump’s pick to become the next Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Yesterday, by unanimous consent, the Senate agreed on the amount of time to spend debating the Iancu nomination. At 5:00pm ET on Monday, February 5th the Senate will spend 30 minutes debating the Iancu nomination, with time equally divided between parties. A confirmation vote for Iancu will follow immediately after the close of the debate.
The Congressional Record for January 30, 2018 (at page 587) explains there will be no intervening action of debate and that no further motions will be in order. If confirmed the motion to reconsider will be opened immediately.
The Iancu vote is expected to be a roll call vote, which means each Senator will be on the record as voting Yes or No on the Iancu nomination. A roll call vote occurs when one fifth of the Senators present request such a vote in lieu of a voice vote.
It is likely that in the ensuing days Senators will use the Iancu nomination as a vehicle to present a link between patent rights and high drug prices
“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs,” President Trump said during his first State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. “In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.”
There is no doubt that brand name drugs are more expensive in the United States than they are overseas, but patents are not the problem. Blockbuster drugs are patented throughout the world, and in many countries the price of a brand name drug is substantially less than the price of that same brand name drug in the United States.
There are price restrictions in many parts of the world that set a maximum that can be charged by a pharmaceutical manufacturer. If that maximum is higher than the price of producing the next unit of the drug then the drug is made and sold, albeit for substantially less profit than it can be sold for in the United States. Thus, Americans subsidize cheap drugs for the rest of the world.