WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is struggling with whether it should stop pharmaceutical corporations from paying generic drug competitors to delay releasing their cheaper versions of brand-name drugs.

Justices heard arguments from federal officials Monday that these deals can be anticompetitive and keeps lower-cost generic drugs out of American hands. But pharmaceutical companies say these deals save litigation costs and often bring generics to market faster.

A government lawyer argued the companies should be forced to prove that their deals serve a purpose beyond simply paying a generic drug’s maker not to challenge a brand-name drug’s patent.

But a pharmaceutical company lawyer says they shouldn’t be forced to litigate each generic vs. brand-name drug patent lawsuit to conclusion when a settlement can be reached.

Justices will make a decision later this year.


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