Justia Drugs & Biotech Opinion Summaries
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Accord Healthcare, Inc.
Novartis markets a 0.5 mg daily dose of fingolimod hydrochloride under the brand name Gilenya, for treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, a debilitating immune-mediated demyelinating disease. There is currently no cure for MS. The disease is managed by reducing or preventing relapses and thereby slowing disability. HEC filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) seeking approval to market a generic version of Gilenya. Novartis sued, alleging that HEC’s ANDA infringes all claims of its patent. The Federal Circuit initially affirmed a holding that the patent is not invalid and that HEC’s ANDA infringes that patent.On rehearing, the Federal Circuit reversed. Because the Novartis patent fails to disclose the absence of a loading dose, the district court clearly erred in finding that the negative claim limitation “absent an immediately preceding loading dose” added during prosecution to overcome prior art satisfied the written description requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112(a). The specification nowhere describes “initially” administering a daily dosage. View "Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Accord Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law
Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration v. 2600 Holdings, LLC
In this case concerning the medical marijuana licensing and regulatory process the Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part this interlocutory appeal from the circuit court's denial of Defendants' motion to dismiss this action on the basis of sovereign immunity, holding that the circuit court erred in its ruling.Plaintiff brought this complaint seeking a writ of mandamus and declaratory relief to compel Defendants - the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission - to revoke a cultivation facility license granted to another company and instead award it to Plaintiff. The circuit court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss on the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court remanded the action, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in denying the motion to dismiss the writ of mandamus on the basis of sovereign immunity; (2) the circuit court erred in denying gate State's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claim of declaratory relief; and (3) to the extent that Appellants were seeking relief under the APA the case must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration v. 2600 Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law
Donaldson v. Johnson & Johnson
Donaldson sought treatment for stress urinary incontinence and anterior pelvic organ prolapse. In 2010, to remedy these conditions, Dr. Schultheis surgically implanted in Donaldson two transvaginal polypropylene mesh medical devices. Both were manufactured by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. In 2014, Donaldson sought treatment for injuries resulting from erosion of the mesh into her bladder, vagina, and adjacent tissues, causing scarring, bladder stones, and abdominal pain, among other problems. Information sheets packaged with the devices warned of the risks of erosion but Donaldson never saw the warnings and contends that Dr. Schultheis did not inform her of these risks. Dr. Schultheis testified that he was aware of the possible complications and that he believed that the benefits of the devices outweighed the risks. He also testified that, in implanting the devices, he followed all of the manufacturer’s instructions.The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the manufacturers. Although there is no doubt that Donaldson suffered severe and painful complications after the devices were implanted, she failed to produce sufficient evidence to avoid summary judgment in her case for non-specific defects under Illinois product liability law. There was no evidence eliminating abnormal use or secondary causes, or that the device failed to perform as expected. View "Donaldson v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law
Nostrum Pharmaceuticals LLC v. FDA
Petitioner, a pharmaceutical company, is a drug manufacturer seeking to market various strengths and formulations of generic theophylline, a drug used to treat asthma and other respiratory conditions. To that end, Petitioner submitted a supplemental abbreviated new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). This application remains pending. As part of the FDA’s review process, an agency division sent Nostrum a so-called “complete response letter” that flagged deficiencies in the application and explained how Nostrum could remedy them. Petitioner sought reconsideration of only a portion of the complete response letter, which the division denied. Petitioner petitioned for review of the complete response letter and the denial of reconsideration. The DC Circuit rejected Petitioner’s application for reconsideration, holding that it lacks jurisdiction because neither agency action constitutes a final rejection of the application. Rather, a complete response letter is an interim step in the FDA’s consideration of an application. More must happen before the FDA’s final determination on the application is made. The facts of this case underscore the unfinished nature of the agency process at the complete-response-letter stage. Since petitioning this court for review, Petitioner has continued to press for approval of its still-pending application before the agency. View "Nostrum Pharmaceuticals LLC v. FDA" on Justia Law
Dearinger v. Eli Lilly & Co.
The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington certified a question to the Washington Supreme Court, asking whether Washington law recognized an exception to the "learned intermediary doctrine" when a prescription drug manufacturer advertises its product directly to consumers. Under the learned intermediary doctrine, a prescription drug manufacturer satisfies its duty to warn patients of a drug’s risks when it adequately warns the prescribing physician. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative: there was no direct-to-consumer advertising exception. "The policies underlying the learned intermediary doctrine remain intact even in the direct-to-consumer advertising context. Further, existing state law sufficiently regulates product warnings and prescription drug advertising. Accordingly, we hold regardless of whether a prescription drug manufacturer advertises its products directly to consumers, the manufacturer satisfies its duty to warn a patient when it adequately warns the prescribing physician of the drug’s risks and side effects." View "Dearinger v. Eli Lilly & Co." on Justia Law
T.S. v. Secretary of Health & Human Services
In 2009, six-month-old Trystan received vaccines, including DTaP-HepB-IPV. Hours later, Trystan developed a fever and was in pain; he developed a hot lump on his thigh. Trystan’s mother took him to urgent care, where he was diagnosed with a “common cold.” Trystan’s arm contortions continued. At his one-year exam, Trystan could not stand, crawl, grasp, hold his head up while sitting, or attempt to move his lower extremities. Trystan received additional vaccinations. His arm contortions returned. Trystan had muscle spasms, developmental delays, seizures, dystonia, and other neurologic issues. In 2014, Trystan was diagnosed with Leigh’s syndrome, a severe neurological disorder that often presents in the first year of life, is characterized by progressive loss of mental and movement abilities, and typically results in death. Genetic testing showed that Trystan has two associated disease-causing mutations.His parents sought compensation under the Vaccine Act, 42 U.S.C. 300aa–1. The Claims Court upheld determinations that Trystan did not experience neurologic deterioration until many weeks after his 2009 vaccination and that Trystan’s genetic mutations solely caused his Leigh’s syndrome. The Federal Circuit reversed. Because the contortions began within two weeks of his vaccinations, Trystan has shown a logical chain of cause and effect between his vaccination and his neurodegeneration, satisfying his burden. He is entitled to compensation unless the Secretary establishes the injury was due to factors unrelated to the vaccine. There is no evidence that Trystan’s mutations would have resulted in the same progression and severity of his Leigh’s syndrome absent the vaccine. View "T.S. v. Secretary of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law
California v. Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, Inc., and Ethicon US, LLC (collectively, Ethicon) appealed after a trial court levied nearly $344 million in civil penalties against Ethicon for willfully circulating misleading medical device instructions and marketing communications that misstated, minimized, and/or omitted the health risks of Ethicon’s surgically-implantable transvaginal pelvic mesh products. The court found Ethicon committed 153,351 violations of the Unfair Competition Law (UCL), and 121,844 violations of the False Advertising Law (FAL). The court imposed a $1,250 civil penalty for each violation. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred in just one respect: in addition to penalizing Ethicon for its medical device instructions and printed marketing communications, the court penalized Ethicon for its oral marketing communications, specifically, for deceptive statements Ethicon purportedly made during one-on-one conversations with doctors, at Ethicon-sponsored lunch events, and at health fair events. However, there was no evidence of what Ethicon’s employees and agents actually said in any of these oral marketing communications. Therefore, the Court of Appeal concluded substantial evidence did not support the trial court’s factual finding that Ethicon’s oral marketing communications were likely to deceive doctors. Judgment was amended to strike the nearly $42 million in civil penalties that were imposed for these communications. View "California v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law
Niazi Licensing Corp. v. St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc.
Congestive heart failure can be treated by resynchronization therapy, using electrical pacing leads to help keep the two sides of the heart contracting with regularity and in sync. According to Niazi's 268 patent, physicians previously accomplished resynchronization by inserting a catheter into the coronary sinus and its branch veins to place pacing leads on the hearts of patients; it can be “difficult to pass a lead” into the coronary sinus and its branch veins using a catheter. The 268 patent describes a double catheter, comprising an outer and inner catheter, for cannulating the coronary sinus “without significant manipulation.” Niazi sued for patent infringement, accusing combinations of St. Jude’s products of directly infringing the 268 patent and accusing St. Jude of inducing infringement.The Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s determination that all but one of the asserted patent claims are invalid as indefinite; when read in light of the intrinsic evidence, a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand the scope of the claims with reasonable certainty. Niazi failed to prove direct infringement—a necessary element of Niazi’s inducement claim. The court affirmed the entry of monetary sanctions and the exclusion of portions of Niazi’s technical expert and damages expert reports because Niazi failed to disclose predicate facts during discovery. The court upheld the exclusion of portions of Niazi’s damages expert report as unreliable. View "Niazi Licensing Corp. v. St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc." on Justia Law
In re: Rotavirus Vaccines Antitrust Litigation v.
Under "loyalty contracts," Physician Buying Groups (PBGs) members are entitled to discounts if they buy a large enough percentage of their vaccines from Merck. The loyalty contracts include an arbitration provision. Membership contracts between PBGs and medical practices give medical practices discounts on Merck vaccines for enrolling in PBGs. PBGs contract with both Merck and medical practices and are middlemen but PBGs never possess the vaccines. Medical practices buy their vaccines directly from Merck, receiving discounts for belonging to a PBG. The Pediatricians, members of PBGs that contracted with Merck, never signed contracts containing an arbitration clause.The Pediatricians filed federal suits alleging Merck’s vaccine bundling program was anticompetitive. Merck moved to compel arbitration. On remand, following discovery, the district court again denied Merck’s motion and granted the Pediatricians summary judgment, reasoning that the Pediatricians were not bound under an agency theory. The Third Circuit reversed. The PBG membership contract made the PBG a “non-exclusive agent to arrange for the purchase of goods and services,” and the PBG acted on this authority by executing the loyalty contract with Merck that included the arbitration clause. The Pediatricians simultaneously demonstrated intent to create an agency relationship and exercised control over the scope of the PBG’s agency by contract. View "In re: Rotavirus Vaccines Antitrust Litigation v." on Justia Law
Nevada Independent v. Whitley
The Supreme Court held that the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) prohibits disclosure, under the Nevada Public Records Act (NPRA), of documents from pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers collected under S.B. 539.The Nevada Independent (TNI) filed a petition with the district court seeking an order directing the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to release the documents at issue. The district court concluded that the documents were not subject to disclosure under the NPRA because the information contained in them comprised trade secrets protected under the DTSA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the DTSA classifies the requested documents, obtained pursuant to S.B. 539, as confidential trade secrets, the documents were exempt from disclosure under the NPRA; and (2) TNI's remaining allegations of error were without merit. View "Nevada Independent v. Whitley" on Justia Law