Pharmacist holding prescription Research has found that 78% of drugs associated with new patents were not new drugs coming on the market, but existing drugs. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new report suggests that “product hopping”—a practice by drug companies to extend their patents on profitable drugs—costs American consumers and the U.S. health care system billions of dollars each year.

The report, from Matrix Global Advisors and the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs (CAPD), looked at five prescription drugs: Prilosec, TriCor, Suboxone, Doryx, and Namenda. As with other examples of product hopping, drug companies have tweaked the formulas on those drugs, allowing them to extend their patents on the new formulations, and delay the move to the generic drug marketplace.

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