When pharmaceutical companies get a patent on a new molecule, they have 20 years to recoup the cost of developing a drug out of it. Two decades sounds like a long time, but clinical trials eat several of those years, leaving only a handful of years to earn back the money spent bringing the drug to market. So pharmaceutical companies look for loopholes in the law. Here are three shady things these companies do to extend their patents - and rake in more cash from consumers.
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Once the patent expires, other manufactures can make the medication, and this severely decreases the cost of the pharmaceutical. That's why companies try to extend the time they hold exclusive rights to a drug and can set prices as high as they wish. One common way they do this is to develop new chemical entities - small modifications of existing, often "off-patent molecules" that allow them to get a 5 year extension on the patent. (See our explainer on how this works.)