“Supreme Court justices on Monday signaled uncertainty over how they would rule on whether brand-name drug companies can settle patent litigation with generic rivals by making deals to keep cheaper products off the market.
Eight justices, lacking the recused Justice Samuel Alito, asked questions that indicated concerns about such deals, but several seemed unsure how courts should approach the matter.
In the deals in question, brand name manufacturers settle litigation by paying generic manufacturers to stay out of the market for a specified period.
U.S. and state regulators say the practice costs consumers, insurers and government billions of dollars annually.
The Federal Trade Commission, which has called the deals “pay for delay,” has fought them in court for more than a decade.
A number of justices on Monday appeared skeptical of the Justice Department’s argument that the deals should be viewed as presumptively unlawful.