IPWatchdog.com is in the process of transitioning to a newer version of our website. Please be patient with us while we work out all the kinks.

Posts Tagged: "biologics"

New Dance Moves? Purple Book Amendments Require Public Disclosure of ‘Patent Dance’ Patent Lists

Innovator (or “reference”) biologic drug makers and small-molecule drug makers face differing legal obligations with respect to public patent disclosures. Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, reference small-molecule drug makers are required to provide to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a list of the patents covering the active ingredients, compositions, formulations, and methods of treatment for their approved reference drug products, which the FDA in turn is required to publish in its “Orange Book.”  21 U.S.C. § 355(b)(1), (c)(2). The publication of such patents in the FDA Orange Book thus gives all generic drug applicants advance notice of the patents to be asserted by a reference drug maker in future Hatch-Waxman litigation.

Bills to Lower Prescription Drug Costs and Boost Biosimilars Sent to Biden’s Desk

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved two bills meant to lower prescription drug prices and sent them on to President Joe Biden for approval. The Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act and the Ensuring Innovation Act were introduced by U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and broadly aim to improve the current market for cheaper generic drugs.

Federal Circuit Upholds Patent for Biologic Drug Enbrel; Judge Reyna Dissents

On July 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a holding of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Immunex Corporation, Amgen Manufacturing, Limited, Hoffman-La Roche Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., Sandoz International GMBH, Sandoz GMBH, holding that Sandoz failed to prove that the asserted claims were invalid for obviousness-type double patenting (ODP), failure to meet the written description requirement, and obviousness for lack of motivation to combine the prior art references. The ruling for now blocks Sandoz from marketing its biosimilar version (Erelzi) of the popular rheumatoid arthritis drug, Enbrel. Judge Reyna dissented, arguing that certain clauses of the licensing agreement were illusory, thereby rendering the agreement an effective assignment for purposes of ODP.

USMCA Takes Another Step Forward in 25-3 Senate Committee Vote

The United States Senate Finance Committee today considered the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in an Open Executive Session and voted 25 to 3 to move the bill forward.

The USMCA enjoys wide bipartisan support, but Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) voted against the bill. Toomey and Cassidy objected largely to process issues, as the Committee was not allowed to present amendments under a fast-track process, while Whitehouse was critical of the agreement’s lack of urgency on climate change. President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reached agreement on the USMCA, which would, if ratified, replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), on December 10. Notably for the IP community, the new version struck down provisions that would have expanded regulatory data protection for biologics inventions from five years in Mexico and eight years in Canada to 10 years in both countries.

Federal Circuit Upholds $70 Million Judgment for Amgen in Epogen Biosimilar Case

Yesterday, in an opinion authored by Judge Moore, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the District of Delaware’s decision that: 1) U.S. Patent No. 5,856,298 (the ‘298 patent) belonging to Amgen was infringed by Hospira and not invalid; 2) 14 batches of drug substance for Hospira’s erythropoietin biosimilar drug product were not covered by the Safe Harbor provision of 35 USC § 271(e)(1); and 3) Amgen had proven that it was entitled to a jury verdict of $70 million in damages. Additionally, the CAFC affirmed the jury’s verdict of noninfringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,756,349 (the ‘349 patent).

Final USMCA Text is a Missed Opportunity for Innovation

Earlier this week, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reached an agreement with President Donald Trump on passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which if passed into law would replace the defunct and much maligned North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Not everyone is happy about the latest version of the USMCA agreed upon by the White House and House Democrats, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which continues to support the overall agreement but has great concerns about the new provisions in the latest negotiated agreement between President Trump and Speaker Pelosi, which strikes expanded protection for biologic drugs from the agreement completely. Over the summer, House Democrats vocally opposed granting 10 years of regulatory data protection (RDP) for biologics inventions—an increase from 8 years in Canada and from 5 years in Mexico—arguing it would result in higher drug prices and delayed entry for biosimilars.

As Lighthizer Negotiates on USMCA, Former HHS Secretary Warns Against Buying Into ‘Myths’

On September 13, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer reportedly expressed a willingness to negotiate on several points of contention regarding the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), including potentially reducing the 10-year period of intellectual property protection for biologic medicines. In response to this, the Pass USMCA Coalition is touting a memo penned by Former Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson aimed at “debunking the widespread myth that the USMCA will drive up drug prices.” Thompson, also a four-term governor of Wisconsin, now advises the Pass USMCA Coalition. Thompson’s memo focuses on three key arguments that he considers myths

Amidst Push for a Summer Vote on USMCA, Report Argues RDP Requirement Would Not Raise Drug Prices

In the face of pressure to pull provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that would grant 10 years of regulatory data protection (RDP) for biologics inventions, a recent report claims that the requirement would not result in higher drug prices for U.S. patients. The USMCA is currently being negotiated, but the chances of a vote this summer are quickly dwindling. In addition to other objections, many Democrats have opposed granting 10 years of RDP—an increase from 8 years in Canada and from 0 in Mexico (the U.S. period of exclusivity is longer, at 12)—arguing it would result in higher drug prices and delayed entry for biosimilars. Patrick Kilbride, Vice President of International Intellectual Property for the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has argued here before that the data does not support those claims.

Patent Trends Study Part Eight: Therapeutic and Diagnostic Molecules Industry

In our last article exploring patent trends across 12 industries, we addressed the industrial design industry. Today’s article pertains to the therapeutic and diagnostic molecules industry. Few other industries have the potential to so dramatically affect individuals’ lives as does this industry. While on a day-to-day basis it can be easy to forget the intensive bench work and clinical trials that are being undertaken in attempts to better treat or cure disease, it is this steady pulse of investment and effort that has led to the cure of many ailments and diseases. Rather recently, biologics advancements have expanded the field to no longer merely rely on small-molecule compositions but to draw upon a large pool of sophisticated large-molecule options. However, research and development in the pharmaceutical space remains heavily regulated and extraordinarily expensive. Thus, investments must be chosen and protected wisely.

A Vote for the USMCA Will Secure the Innovation of Tomorrow

Promoting public health has always been a bipartisan priority in Washington, D.C. Under the previous administration, lawmakers passed the 21st Century Cures Act and launched the cancer moonshot, two initiatives that aimed to transform health outcomes through greater investment in the next generation of medical treatments. In his State of the Union address last month, President Trump announced an ambitious plan to end HIV/AIDS by 2030 and increase funding for often-neglected childhood cancers. For each of these initiatives to be successful, lawmakers must recognize that investing in the cures of tomorrow requires continued bipartisan cooperation. This rings true for passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), as well. The next generation of medical innovation depends on significant private sector investments. The intellectual property (IP) provisions of USMCA help to lay the foundation for continued investment into the research and development (R&D) of innovative cures across North America. In particular, the 10-year term of regulatory data protection for biologics will help ensure that North America continues to lead the world in developing life-saving technologies.

Freedom to Operate and the Interplay of Patent and Regulatory Exclusivity for Life Sciences

While part one of this two-part series on intellectual property (IP) due diligence focused on a life science company’s own IP portfolio, part two will address a company’s understanding of how it fits into the market by considering its freedom to operate, as well as its competitors’, and the interplay of patent and regulatory exclusivity as it relates to the company’s product. Patent and regulatory exclusivity—two areas that can provide the most value and protection to a life science product—are very interrelated. Simply identifying when a key patent naturally expires is not sufficient, because regulatory exclusivity could possibly extend the company’s ability to keep competitors off the market or allow competitors to speed up entry in certain situations.

District of Delaware Makes it Harder to Corner the Market on Antibody Patents in MorphoSys v. Janssen

Patents covering an antibody are often claimed by the antibody’s function (the residues where it binds to the antigen) rather than its structure (amino-acid sequence). This tactic can successfully cast a very wide net of patent protection over potentially millions of different antibodies. In doing so, even if the patent holder’s own antibodies never make it out of the laboratory, the patents can nevertheless corner the market on intellectual property covering a new class of inhibitors. The risk of this strategy, however, is that extremely broad patent scope can simultaneously doom a patent’s validity for not being sufficiently enabled or lacking written description. As an example, a recent decision from the District of Delaware, MorphoSys AG v. Janssen Biotech, Inc., No. 16-221 (LPS) (Dkt. 471) (Jan. 25, 2019), invalidated broad antibody patents for not being sufficiently enabled, as well as coming near to invalidating the same patents for lacking written description. The case is important to the growing body of patents covering biologic drugs because it delineates more precisely when functionally-claimed antibody patents can survive enablement and written description challenges.

The Evolution of Antibody Patents

As the pharmaceutical industry continues to shift toward biologic-based drugs, including monoclonal antibodies, protecting the underlying technology has been and continues to be a priority for companies. As with any drug, patenting therapeutic monoclonal antibodies as early as possible in the drug development process is crucial to protect the underlying invention. In the early days of antibody discovery for therapeutic development, protection could be obtained with minimal disclosure of the actual antibody. But as the art and case law have evolved, companies now need far more data to obtain the broadest scope of protection. For that reason, it has become more of a challenge to determine the best time to file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). After the America Invents Act (AIA), it is a race to the USPTO to be the first to claim your invention, but you may lack the requisite data to enable you to obtain patent protection in the end.

CAFC sides with Sandoz, Amgen’s state claims preempted by BPCIA

Originally filed in October 2014, the long-running and high-stakes battle between two powerhouse companies, Amgen and Sandoz, continues to lay out the ground rules for a growing biosimilar industry. State law claims are preempted by the BPCIA on both field and conflict grounds, which means only remedy available against biosimilar applicants refusing to engage in the patent dance is filing for a declaration of infringement, validity, or enforceability of a patent that claims the biological product or its use. Notably, this must be done before receiving manufacturing information from the biosimilar company. Patent lawsuits are notoriously costly so, in the short term, the decision will have the greatest impact on innovator start-ups with limited financial resources. In the long term, relying on costly litigations to keep biosimilar drugs off the market will likely increase the consumer price for any biologic drug.

Did the Federal Circuit doom Amgen’s Enbrel® monopoly?

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.