The number of patent dispute settlements between pharmaceutical companies that potentially delay market entry of low-cost generic drugs has dropped substantially over the past two years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says. In fiscal 2014, the number of potential “pay for delay” deals filed with the commission dropped to 21 from 29 the year before and from 40 in fiscal 2012, according to an FTC staff report. The decline follows a 2013 Supreme Court decision that made it easier to challenge settlements of pharmaceutical patent litigation under federal antitrust laws. In a typical pay-for-delay deal, the manufacturer of a brand-name drug pays or otherwise compensates a generics competitor for agreeing to drop its patent challenge and delay the introduction of a cheaper copy of the branded drug, usually for several years. “Although it is too soon to know if these are lasting trends, it is encouraging to see a significant decline” in the number of these suspect settlements, says Debbie Feinstein, director of FTC’s Bureau of Competition.