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SRMT Outraged at Senator McCaskill's Attempt to Abrogate Sovereign Immunity


October 12, 2017

AKWESASNE TERRITORY. The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe issued the following statement on Friday, October 6, 2017, in response to legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that seeks to abrogate tribal immunity from being asserted in the Inter Partes Review proceedings on the tribally owned patents for RESTASIS® (Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Emulsion) 0.05% before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board:

"The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is outraged that U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), has introduced legislation that specifically targets Indian tribes, yet exempts state universities and other sovereign governments engaged in the very same IPR process. The double standard that is being introduced by the Senator as a solution for a perceived abuse of the IPR proceedings does nothing to solve the underlying problem. The Tribe's authority is inherent and has been reaffirmed through treaties and legislation from the earliest days of the country.

It is cruelly ironic that Indian Tribes, with the highest unmet health care needs in the entire country, are being attacked for exercising their sovereign obligation to fill gaps in health coverage caused by the federal government's abject failure to uphold its trust responsibility. The fact that the Mohawk community is home to three unmitigated EPA Superfund sites that harm the health of the community and surrounding non-Native communities is a stark example of the government's failure. Congress shouldn't double down on its mistakes by denying the Tribe's sovereign authority in the IPR process.

As the largest private employer in Northern New York, the Tribe has a responsibility to ensure the livelihood and well-being of its tribal members and its hundreds of non-Native employees. The Tribe remains committed to working with all Members of Congress to discuss how its recent economic diversification efforts benefits the Tribe, its members, and the surrounding communities without harming competition among pharmaceutical companies (both private and generic) or artificially inflating drug prices."

Below is Senator's MaCaskill's press release and the letter MaCaskill wrote to Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactor's of America (PhRMA).

McCaskill to PhRMA: Are You Comfortable With Allergan's Action With Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe?

Senator questions lobbying industry giant after pharmaceutical company games system to avoid patent review

Washington. Tuesday, On October 3, 2017, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wrote the President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) - the most prominent and powerful trade group in the pharmaceutical industry - after a recent deal between Allergan and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe to block administrative challenges to Allergan's patent for the drug Restasis. The deal will make it more difficult for other companies to challenge Allergan's patent and potentially create generic versions of the eye medicine.

"This is one of the most brazen and absurd loopholes I've ever seen, and it should be illegal," McCaskill said. "Given its recent comments regarding corporate responsibility, PhRMA can and should play a role in telling its members that this action isn't appropriate, and I hope they do that."

In the deal, Allergan transferred patents to Restasis, a blockbuster eye medicine, to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, which has now used tribal sovereignty to block a challenge concerning the validity of Allergan's patent. McCaskill's letter asks PhRMA to review whether that action is consistent with the mission of the organization and its recent commitment to addressing pricing issues and encouraging responsible corporate practices.

"I urge you to review whether the recent actions Allergan has taken are consistent with the mission of your organization," McCaskill wrote to PhRMA President and CEO Stephen Ubl. "More broadly, I ask that PhRMA review whether actions to block patent challenges through claims of tribal sovereign immunity align with PhRMA efforts to promote innovation and discourage predatory pricing practices and anticompetitive conduct."

During McCaskill's time as the top Democrat on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, she joined Committee Chairman Susan Collins to launch an in-depth investigation into prescription drug price increases.


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