On August 19, British brand name pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing a petition for writ of certiorari filed by generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals. Teva’s petition appeals a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reinstating a jury verdict that found Teva liable for inducing infringement of GSK’s patents covering the heart failure treatment, Coreg. GSK’s brief argues that the Federal Circuit properly applied the law on induced infringement and that the “skinny label” arguments raised by Teva’s petition only affect 30% of the damages awarded by the jury in the case.
Earlier today, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary convened a brief executive business meeting to discuss a series of judicial nominees selected by the Biden Administration, as well as a pair of proposed bills. One of those bills, the Interagency Patent Coordination and Improvement Act of 2022, follows various efforts to limit certain patent rights in the pharmaceutical industry and was passed favorably out of the Committee via voice vote toward a full vote on the Senate floor.
On Friday, April 1, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to once again voice his concerns about several sources advancing data on the effects of pharmaceutical patents on drug pricing. Tillis is specifically troubled that the data seems to be based on opaque methodologies and to contain inaccurate or incomplete information that may mislead policymakers. In a previous letter to these organizations, he requested the agencies conduct an independent assessment of the accuracy and reliability of those sources. In the present letter, Tillis again highlights his concern about work from the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK). He had previously written to Tahir Amin, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of I-MAK, requesting that I-MAK provide a detailed explanation of its methods to allow others to check the accuracy of I-MAK’s patent data and to assess the credibility of its other assertions.
The Federal Circuit’s recent majority opinion and Chief Judge Prost’s dissenting opinion in the GlaxoSmithKline LLC v. Teva Pharmaceuticals “skinny labeling” case has raised eyebrows and piqued interest beyond the usual circles. The decision’s result is a lower bar for finding induced infringement—a win for brand-name companies. While the jury found infringement against Teva’s skinny labeled carvedilol, a congestive heart failure drug, we could not help but wonder if the American public sees the issue more like the majority Federal Circuit opinion or more like the dissenting opinion of Chief Judge Prost? How do Americans view “skinny labeling,” and how might those opinions intersect with future findings of the evolving law? Will jurors see the stronger position of brand companies as something to uphold or does the consumer benefit of generics foster a different preference? We discuss the legal perspectives and national surveys on skinny labeling and patent protections to expand the conversation.
In compliance with the Phase One Trade Agreement, China has implemented a patent linkage system in their amended patent law, which became effective June 1, 2021 (Article 76 of the Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China (2020)). The Chinese patent linkage system prevents marketing approval of generic drugs until after the expiration of patents covering the drugs or uses. Specifically, the Center for Drug Evaluation (CDE) of the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) has set up a registration system to register patents covering: chemical drugs and uses; traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) and uses; and biologics: Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) sequence structure and medical use. The registration system started public testing in May and is now live.
As we turn the page to 2021, we expect at least two major cases to be resolved that could have long-lasting effects on where and how Hatch-Waxman and Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) cases are litigated. Specifically, the future of skinny labels is in doubt, and available venues for Plaintiffs could be significantly narrowed. The number of new drugs eligible for generic competition will also rebound in 2021, but only time will tell if the global pandemic affects the overall number of generic filings. While there are many more Hatch-Waxman and BPCIA developments to watch this year, these are a few that we will be following closely.
The National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), in conjunction with the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), recently solicited public comments on the draft of “Measures For the Implementation of Early Resolution Mechanisms for Drug Patent Disputes (Trial)” (“Draft Measures”). The purpose of the Draft Measures is to establish an early resolution mechanism for drug patent disputes. The deadline for submission of comments is October 25, 2020.
In GlaxoSmithKline LLC v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Friday reversed a district court’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) for Teva, finding that Teva was liable for induced infringement of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK’s) patent directed to a method of treating Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) using carvedilol….. Chief Judge Prost authored a dissenting opinion, wherein she expressed the majority’s opinion undermined a critical balance between patent protection and public access once a patent expires “by allowing a drug marketed for unpatented uses to give rise to liability for inducement and by permitting an award of patent damages where causation has not been shown.”
Proving inducement to infringe requires showing that the accused infringer possessed “specific intent” to infringe. In pharmaceutical cases, particularly those arising in the Hatch-Waxman framework, specific intent may be supplied by the wording of a drug label. Vanda sheds light on several issues relevant to inferring inducement to infringe based on a drug’s label. For example, can a label’s clear recommendations on ultimate dosage be negated by how a medical provider arrives at the dosage? Or, does finding specific intent require that every practitioner prescribe an infringing dose? Or, can evidence of substantial non-infringing use negate a finding of inducement when the drug’s label instructs performing the patented method?
What was the federal government thinking when Hatch-Waxman originally passed. Why would Congress incentivize generic manufacturers to challenge the patents of pharmaceutical companies? It is the same insidious thought process underlying Hatch-Waxman seen underlying the justification for post grant challenges of all patents at the USPTO. How absurd is it that those who question the need for incentive to innovate are so eager to provide incentive to challenge patents?
Celgene faces a new gang of generics moving in on its blockbuster Revlimid®. Over the past year, a number of generics have filed ANDAs against Revlimid®, including Dr. Reddy’s, Zydus, Cipla, and Lotus Pharmaceutical. Those ANDAs have triggered corresponding Hatch-Waxman lawsuits from Celgene. Among the asserted patents, most of them expire by 2022, with the exception of two polymorph patents that could extend Revlimid® monopoly until 2027. The lawsuits are in their early stages, but an upcoming Markman hearing in the case against Dr. Reddy’s is shaping up to be critical to whether Celgene can protect is Revlimid® monopoly past 2022.
In the case, Amgen v. Sanofi, the Court vacated an injunction Amgen obtained against a competing drug to its new PCSK9-inhibitor. The Court’s decision turned on a finding that the jury was improperly instructed on the criteria for invalidating a patent directed to an antibody for lack of written description. Thus, will the precedent recently established in Amgen’s PCSK9 case doom the validity of its patents covering Enbrel®? There are likely two ways that the decision in Amgen v. Sanofi made a validity challenge to Enbrel®’s patents easier.
On Thursday, September 28th, a judge in the District of Delaware entered an order stipulating dismissal in a patent infringement case brought by North Chicago-based pharmaceutical firm AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) against Thousand Oaks, CA-based drugmaker Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN). According to reports, the settlement follows an agreement between the two companies to delay a generic version of the anti-inflammatory drug Humira from the U.S. market until 2023… Of AbbVie’s total $6.94 billion in net revenues from U.S. and international sales during the quarter, Humira contributed $4.71 billion in revenues.
Generic drug manufacturers can pose major financial threats to those companies that invent and develop the copied drugs both domestically and internationally… Before TRIPS, most of the world’s developing countries had very weak patent protections, especially for pharmaceuticals. These weaknesses included — but were not limited to — shorter patent terms ranging from 4 to 7 years, narrowly defined patents which allowed for imitations, and greatly reduced monopoly rights of the patent owner by the permissive use of compulsory licenses. This divergence demonstrates a disconnect between the above mentioned weaknesses and the strong protections of industrial countries with their 20-year patent terms and almost unlimited monopoly rights… For pharmaceutical patent owners, these TRIPS amendments try to harmonize the worldwide rights afforded to them by balancing the interests of the rights holder and those of consumers.
Modeled after the Hatch-Waxman Act, the BPCIA seeks not only to encourage competition in the field of biologics but also to promote innovation by, among other things, providing twelve years of market exclusivity to pioneer biologics… Like the Hatch-Waxman Act, the BPCIA also sets out a process for identifying disputes over patent infringement and managing any ensuing litigation once an applicant seeks a biosimilar license… To streamline the first wave of litigation, the BPCIA mandates that following the biosimilar applicant’s receipt of the RPS’s detailed statement on infringement, the parties negotiate in good faith to select patents for litigation from the lists initially provided by the RPS and the biosimilar applicant. [§ 262(l)(4)].