WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Trade Commission says patent settlements between drugmakers that cost U.S. consumers billions each year are on the rise.
The agency reports that the number of lucrative settlements between brand-name and generic drug companies rose to 19 last year from 16 in 2008 and 14 the year before.
The FTC has waged a yearslong campaign against so-called "pay-to-delay" settlements, in which a branded drug company rewards a generic competitor for keeping cheaper versions of its drugs off the market.
FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz is urging Congress to include a ban on the settlements in the health care bill being negotiated on Capitol Hill.
Agency officials estimate that the deals cost American consumers $3.5 billion per year.