Justia Drugs & Biotech Opinion Summaries

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing this qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA) against PharMerica, Inc. under the public disclosure bar, holding that relator James Banigan fell within an exception to that bar as an "original source of the information." Banigan and Richard Templin, former employees of the pharmaceutical company Organon, brought this action under the FCA and several of its state law equivalents alleging that PharMerica committed fraud by participating in a Medicaid scheme that rewarded it financially for incentivizing physicians to change patients' antidepressant prescriptions to Organon's medications. The district court dismissed the action under the public disclosure bar, which excludes from the subject matter jurisdiction of federal courts qui tam actions that are based upon the public disclosure of allegations in a civil hearing and other sources. The First Circuit reversed, holding that where the allegations of fraud were based upon Banigan's direct knowledge, Banigan's sources met the statutory requirement of "direct and independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations are based," see 31 U.S.C. 3730(e), to qualify as an original source. View "United States, ex rel. Banigan & Templin v. Pharmerica, Inc." on Justia Law

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The patent for Lexapro, an anti-depressant, was expiring, creating a potentially lucrative opportunity to sell a generic version, escitalopram. BioPharm, a generic drug manufacturer, and Antrim planned to sign an updated version of the terms for a previous venture, but never signed a contract for the escitalopram venture. The FDA approved Antrim’s Abbreviated New Drug Application for escitalopram. Bio-Pharm manufactured the first batch but never shipped it to Antrim because the companies never signed a new agreement. Antrim sued Bio-Pharm for breaching an oral contract. Bio-Pharm counterclaimed, arguing promissory estoppel or breach of the claimed oral contract. Antrim unsuccessfully argued the court should preclude testimony by Bio-Pharm’s expert on how the FDA regulates ANDA holders. BioPharm successfully argued the court should preclude testimony by Antrim’s expert on industry practices and how Bio-Pharm’s alleged breach impaired the value of Antrim’s business. The court rejected Antrim’s proposed Jury Instruction that under FDA policy an ANDA holder owns the product underlying that ANDA and denied Antrim’s motion to bar Bio-Pharm from requesting lost profits in its counterclaim, despite missing the Rule 26(a)(1) disclosure deadline. A jury ruled in favor of Bio-Pharm on Antrim’s claim and in favor of Antrim on Bio-Pharm’s counterclaim. Neither party was awarded damages. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Antrim’s challenges to the jury instructions, evidentiary rulings, and allowing Bio-Pharm to request lost profits. View "Antrim Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Bio-Pharm, Inc." on Justia Law

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Acetris obtains its pharmaceutical products from Aurolife, which makes them in a New Jersey facility, using an active pharmaceutical ingredient made in India. Acetris had contracts to supply the VA with several pharmaceutical products, including Entecavir (used to treat hepatitis B). The VA requested that Acetris recertify its compliance with the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (TAA), which bars the VA from purchasing “products of” certain foreign countries, such as India. Ultimately, the VA requested that Acetris obtain a country-of-origin determination. Customs concluded that the Acetris products were products of India. Acetris agreed to cancel its Entecavir contract. The VA issued a new solicitation seeking proposals for Entecavir, indicating that it would continue to rely on the Customs determination. Acetris filed suit, challenging the VA’s interpretation of the TAA. The VA awarded the Entecavir contract to Golden, consistent with its policy to award contracts to the lowest-price technically acceptable bid. The government moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that Acetris lacked standing because Acetris would not have won the contract regardless of the interpretation of the TAA and that Acetris’ earlier-filed Court of International Trade suits divested the Claims Court of jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1500. The Claims Court denied the government’s motions and rejected the government’s interpretation of the TAA. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, holding that the suit is justiciable and agreeing with the Claims Court. The court remanded for the entry of a declaratory judgment and injunction. View "Acetris Health, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Kaiser had surgery to implant the Prolift Anterior Pelvic Floor Repair System, a transvaginal mesh medical device that supports the pelvic muscles. A few years later, Kaiser began experiencing severe pelvic pain, bladder spasms, and pain during intercourse. Her physician attributed these conditions to contractions in the mesh. Kaiser had surgery to remove the device, but her surgeon could not completely extract it and informed her that the complications she was experiencing were likely permanent. Kaiser sued Ethicon, Prolift’s manufacturer, under the Indiana Products Liability Act. A jury found Ethicon liable for defectively designing the Prolift device and failing to adequately warn about its complications and awarded $10 million in compensatory damages; the judge reduced a punitive award to $10 million. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Ethicon’s claim of federal preemption. The requirements of the FDA’s premarket-notification process do not directly conflict with Indiana law. A reasonable jury could conclude that Prolift was unreasonably dangerous and could credit the physician’s assertion that additional warnings about complications would have led him to choose a different treatment plan. The court rejected challenges to the damages and to jury instructions. Seventh Circuit precedent interprets the Indiana Product Liability Act to require a plaintiff in a design-defect case to produce evidence of a reasonable alternative design for the product but the Indiana Supreme Court disagreed in 2010. The state supreme court’s decision controls on a matter of state law. View "Kaiser v. Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon, Inc." on Justia Law

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Farmos developed and patented Dexmedetomidine, a compound that is effective as a sedative, in the 1980s, and conducted human studies using intravenous administration of 20 µg/mL dexmedetomidine hydrochloride. Farmos abandoned its testing based on adverse effects. In 1994, Farmos’s successor granted Abbott an exclusive license to make, use, and sell dexmedetomidine in the U.S. In 1999, Abbott received FDA approval for “Precedex Concentrate,” a 100 µg/mL concentration too strong to be directly administered to patients; the label provides dilution instructions. In 2002, the European Medicines Evaluation Agency authorized the use of Dexdomitor, a ready-to-use 500 µg/mL formulation of dexmedetomidine hydrochloride. Hospira’s 106 patent, entitled “Dexmedetomidine Premix Formulation,” is directed to a liquid for parenteral administration, “wherein the composition is disposed within a sealed container as a premixture.” Fresenius sought FDA approval for a generic ready-to-use dexmedetomidine product. Hospira sued for infringement. Fresenius stipulated to infringement of the 106 patent. The Federal Circuit upheld a finding that a claim in that patent is invalid as obvious over prior art. The patent states that the invention was based on “the discovery that dexmedetomidine prepared in a premixed formulation . . . remains stable and active after prolonged storage.” It does not recite any manufacturing limitations related to stability or an added component that enhances stability; it recites a composition, with a “wherein” clause that describes the stability of that recited composition, a result that was inherent in prior art. View "Hospira, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case involving the indictments of Dr. Frank Stirlacci and his office manager, Jessica Miller, for violations of the Controlled Substances Act and for submitting false health care claims to insurance providers, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the superior court's judgment dismissing several of the indictments, holding that there was sufficient evidence to indict Shirlacci on twenty-six counts of improper prescribing and to indict both defendants on twenty of the twenty-two counts of submitting false health care claims. The charges against Defendants included twenty-six counts each of improper prescribing, twenty counts each of uttering a false prescription, and twenty-two charges each of submitting a false health care claim. The trial judge dismissed the indictments for improper prescribing and uttering false prescriptions and dismissed six of the indictments against each defendant for submitting false health care claims. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed in part, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to indict Stirlacci on all counts of improper prescribing, but Miller's status as a nonpractitioner precluded her indictment on improper prescribing; (2) there was insufficient evidence to indict either defendant for uttering false prescriptions; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to indict both defendants on twenty counts of submitting false health care claims. View "Commonwealth v. Stirlacci" on Justia Law

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Amgen holds an approved New Drug Application for Sensipar®, a formulation of cinacalcet hydrochloride used to treat secondary hyperparathyroidism in adult patients with chronic kidney disease who are on dialysis and to treat hypercalcemia in patients with parathyroid cancer and primary and secondary hyperparathyroidism. Amneal, Piramal, and Zydus each filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) seeking to enter the market with a generic version of Sensipar®. Amgen sued each ANDA filer, alleging that the proposed ANDA products would infringe its 405 patent, which is directed to a rapid dissolution formulation of cinacalcet. The district court entered a judgment of non-infringement. The Federal Circuit vacated in part, finding that the district court construed the claims incorrectly and erred in its analysis of infringement by Amneal. The court affirmed with respect to Piramal and Zydus, finding that the district court properly applied prosecution history estoppel to Amgen’s arguments regarding Piramal and otherwise did not err in its factual findings for Zydus. View "Amgen Inc. v. Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC" on Justia Law

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Persion’s 760 and 499 patents, both entitled “Treating Pain in Patients with Hepatic Impairment” share a common written description and priority date and are directed to methods of treating pain in patients with mild or moderate compromised liver functionality, using extended-release hydrocodone-only formulations. Hydrocodone is an opioid, widely used to treat pain, and has been FDA-approved since 1943. The patents cover the formulation for Zohydro ER.4. Persion sued, alleging that Alvogen infringed the patents by filing an Abbreviated New Drug Application seeking to market a generic version of Zohydro ER.4. The Federal Circuit affirmed a finding that the patents are invalid as obvious. The district court did not err by finding that the pharmacokinetic limitations of the asserted claims were inherent and added no patentable weight to the pharmacokinetic claims. Regardless of whether the court’s consideration of the FDA’s statement was proper, there was no clear error in the court’s finding that there was a motivation to combine prior art in light of the evidence as a whole. The district court considered Persion’s evidence of objective indicia together with the other evidence on the issue of obviousness and there is no inconsistency between the district court’s findings underlying its obviousness and lack of written description determinations. View "Persion Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Alvogen Malta Operations Ltd." on Justia Law

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Syngenta sued Willowood, a Hong Kong company that sells fungicide to its Oregon-based affiliate, for infringement of patents directed to a fungicide compound and its manufacturing processes and infringement of copyrights for detailed product labels that provide directions for use, storage, and disposal, plus first-aid instructions and environmental, physical, and chemical hazard warnings. The district court dismissed the copyright claims as precluded by the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. 135 and granted-in-part Syngenta’s summary judgment motion with respect to patent infringement. After a jury trial, the court entered a defense judgment on the patent claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part, reversed-in-part, and vacated in part. The district court did not provide an adequate analysis of the potential conflict between FIFRA and the Copyright Act. Because FIFRA does not, on its face, require a “me-too” registrant to copy the label of a registered product, FIFRA only conflicts with the Copyright Act to the extent that some particular element of Syngenta’s label is both protected under copyright doctrines and necessary for the expedited approval of Willowood’s generic pesticide. The court erred by imposing a single-entity requirement on the performance of a patented process under 35 U.S.C. 271(g); practicing a patented process abroad does not trigger liability under section 271(g) in the same manner that practicing a patented process domestically does under section 271(a). View "Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC v. Willowood, LLC" on Justia Law

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Health benefit plans sued GSK, the manufacturer of the prescription drug Avandia, under state consumer-protection laws and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. ch. 96 (RICO), based on GSK’s marketing of Avandia as having benefits to justify its price, which was higher than the price of other drugs used to treat type-2 diabetes. The district court granted GSK summary judgment, finding that the state-law consumer-protection claims were preempted by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), 21 U.S.C. ch. 9; the Plans had failed to identify a sufficient “enterprise” for purposes of RICO; and the Plans’ arguments related to GSK’s alleged attempts to market Avandia as providing cardiovascular “benefits” were “belated.” The Third Circuit reversed, applying the Supreme Court’s 2019 "Merck" decision. The state-law consumer-protection claims are not preempted by the FDCA. The Plans should have been given the opportunity to seek discovery before summary judgment on the RICO claims. Further, from the inception of this litigation, the Plans’ claims have centered on GSK’s marketing of Avandia as providing cardiovascular benefits as compared to other forms of treatment, so the district court’s refusal to consider the Plans’ “benefits” arguments was in error because those arguments were timely raised. View "In re: Avandia Marketing, Sales and Products Liability Litigation" on Justia Law