In the comments here, Andrew Duffin asserts that:
It’s a lucky Pharma company indeed that gets seven years to recover the R&D costs of a successful product. Two or three is more like the real world figure.
But Chicago professor Richard Posner writes:
…I am skeptical about the length of the patent term for pharmaceuticals. Congress has tacked on to the normal 20-year patent term (which until 1995 was only 17 years) an additional term of up to 5 years for the time it takes a pharmaceutical manufacturer to get a new drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In addition, the expiration of a pharmaceutical patent does not extinguish the patentee’s ability to obtain a higher price than the generic substitutes that come on line when his patent expires, because there may be substantial consumer and physician goodwill attached to the trademark of the patented drug…
Dr Marcia Angell, the former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, says in this book:
…the effective patent life of brand-name drugs increased from about eight years in 1980 to about fourteen years in 2000.