Early last year, as lawmakers vowed to curb rising drug prices, Sen. Thom Tillis was named chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on intellectual property rights, a committee that had not met since 2007.

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As the new gatekeeper for laws and oversight of the nation’s patent system, the North Carolina Republican signaled he was determined to make it easier for American businesses to benefit from it — a welcome message to the drugmakers who already leverage patents to block competitors and keep prices high.

Less than three weeks after introducing

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