Mohawk Tribe 'Outraged' Over Bill That Would Outlaw Patent Deal

Mohawk Tribe 'Outraged' Over Bill That Would Outlaw Patent Deal

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The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe says it's "outraged" by a bid to do away with its sovereign immunity in its dealings with a drug company.

The Tribe recently struck a deal with Allergan, which manufactures Restasis, a medication used to treat chronic dry eye.

Allergan transferred its Restasis patents to the tribe, which is sovereign and believed to be immune to patent challenges. The tribe will get millions of dollars to use that immunity to get a patent challenge dismissed before a special panel.

Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri drafted a bill stating that tribal sovereign immunity cannot be used to block review of a patent.

The Tribe says the bill exempts state universities and other sovereign governments, which engage in the same process.

"The double standard that is being introduced by the Senator as a solution for a perceived abuse of the IPR (Inter Partes Review) 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," the Tribe said in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, McCaskill released a statement calling the deal "one of the most brazen and absurd loopholes I’ve ever seen, and it should be illegal.”

The Senator also said the deal will make it more difficult for other companies to challenge Allergan’s patent and potentially create generic versions of the eye medicine.

The Tribe has said it will use the money from the deal to provide housing, education and health care services for the Mohawk people.

See the Tribe's full statement

See Senator McCaskill's news release

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