Suddenly, it's tough to get a patent extension in Europe. According to PharmaGossip, the rate of refusal is now at all all-time high, because officials are targeting so-called "evergreening." That's the practice of updating existing patents before they expire, in an effort to extend protection over their products--and stave off generic competition.
Last year, the European Patent office received 146,600 applications, compared with 141,400 in 2007; that's a 3.56 percent increase. But the percentage of patents rejected surpassed 50 percent, up from 49.5 percent in 2007.
As PharmaFocus points out, the debate over evergreening is topical for pharma because European Officials are already investigating drugmakers over allegations of "anti-competitive" patenting practices. The probe is expected to wrap up later this year.