Justia Drugs & Biotech Opinion Summaries

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) claims based on lack of RICO standing in a putative class action brought against pharmaceutical companies. Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the companies refused to change the warning label of their drug Actos or otherwise inform the public after they learned that the drug increased a patient’s risk of developing bladder cancer. The panel held that patients and health insurance companies who reimbursed patients adequately alleged the required element of proximate cause where they alleged that, but for defendant's omitted mention of a drug's known safety risk, they would not have paid for the drug. The panel agreed with the First and Third Circuits that plaintiffs' damages were not too far removed from defendants' alleged omissions and misrepresentations to satisfy RICO's proximate cause requirement. In this case, plaintiffs sufficiently alleged a direct relationship, and the Holmes factors weighed in favor of permitting their RICO claims to proceed. The panel explained that, although prescribing physicians served as intermediaries between defendants' fraudulent omission of Actos's risk of causing bladder cancer and plaintiffs' payments for the drug, prescribing physicians did not constitute an intervening cause to cut off the chain of proximate causation. The panel also held that plaintiffs have adequately alleged the reliance necessary to satisfy RICO's proximate cause requirement. View "Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82 Health Care Fund v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co." on Justia Law

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Pharma Tech sued LifeScan for infringement of two patents that concern blood glucose monitoring systems for home use by individuals with diabetes. The shared specification of Pharma Tech’s patents states that the claimed inventions improve on prior art blood glucose monitoring systems by “eliminat[ing] several of the critical operator depend[e]nt variables that adversely affect the accuracy and reliability” of these systems. The specification explains that the invention accomplishes this objective by performing multiple Cottrell current measurements and comparing the results. “In a system that is operating correctly, the results should agree within reasonable limits.” The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment of noninfringement. Pharma Tech agreed that the accused products do not literally infringe the claim. Prosecution history estoppel bars the claims for infringement under the doctrine of equivalents; the accused system falls within the claim scope surrendered by the inventors during prosecution of the patent. View "Pharma Tech Solutions, Inc. v. LifeScan, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellants Jonathan Saksek and Joshua Winter challenged a superior court decision to affirm summary judgment in favor of Appellees Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Johnson & Johnson Company, and Janssen Research and Development, LLC (collectively, “Janssen”). Saksek and Winter were two of a large number of men who filed suit against Janssen, alleging that they developed gynecomastia as a result of their ingestion of Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug manufactured by Janssen. In 2014, Janssen filed two motions for summary judgment, which were nominally directed at Saksek’s and Winter’s cases, but had language affecting all Risperdal plaintiffs: the companies sought a global ruling that all claims accrued for statute of limitations purposes no later than October 31, 2006, when Janssen changed the Risperdal label to reflect a greater association between gynecomastia and Risperdal. The trial court ruled that all Risperdal-gynecomastia claims accrued no later June 31, 2009. The superior court disagreed, ruling that all such claims accrued no later than Janssen’s preferred date (October 31, 2006). Concluding that the superior court erred in granting summary judgment at all in Saksek’s and Winter’s cases, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated its decision and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "In Re: Risperdal Litig." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims against defendants based on lack of standing. The court held that plaintiffs plausibly alleged that they suffered an economic loss when they purchased supplements that were worthless because the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) prohibited sale of the supplements. The court explained that Congress, through the FDCA and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), banned adulterated supplements to protect consumers from ingesting products that Congress judged to be insufficiently safe. In this case, the complaint's allegations establish that plaintiffs purchased adulterated dietary supplements that they would not have purchased had they known that sale of the supplements was banned. The court also held that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged sufficient facts to show that their injuries were fairly traceable to defendants. Accordingly, plaintiffs had Article III standing to pursue their claims. View "Debernardis v. IQ Formulations, LLC" on Justia Law

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Index and Gilead were developing drugs for treating the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Idenix alleged that the imminent FDA approval, and launch, of Gilead’s HCV treatment drug sofosbuvir would infringe Idenix’s 597 patent. After a jury trial, Gilead stipulated to infringement under the district court’s claim construction but argued that the patent was invalid for failure to meet the written description and enablement requirements. The jury found for Idenix, upheld the patent and awarded damages. The district court denied Gilead’s motion with respect to written description but granted judgment as a matter of law on enablement, holding the 597 patent invalid. The Federal Circuit affirmed as to non-enablement and held that the patent is also invalid for lack of written description. Although the level of skill in the art is high, the patent does not provide enough meaningful guidance or working examples, across the full scope of the claim, to allow a person of ordinary skill in the art to determine which nucleosides would be effective against HCV without extensive screening. The immense breadth of screening required amounts to "undue experimentation." Given the conspicuous absence of that compound, a person of ordinary skill in the art would not “visualize or recognize the members of the genus” as including 2'-fluoro-down, and the specification could not demonstrate that the inventor had possession of that embodiment at the time of filing. View "Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Gilead Sciences Inc." on Justia Law

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Forest Laboratories, LLC ("Forest"), filed a permissive appeal pursuant to Rule 5, Ala. R. App. P., of an Alabama circuit court's order denying it summary judgment. Forest manufactured and marketed Lexapro, a drug prescribed for depression, and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("FPI") sold and distributed Lexapro. In 2015, Elias Joubran's physician prescribed Lexapro for Elias's depression. Elias's prescription was filled with generic escitalopram that was manufactured and sold by a company other than Forest. On December 30, 2015, Elias entered the house belonging to him and his wife, Sheila Joubran; he shot and killed Sheila, then shot and killed himself. Kevin Feheley, Sr., serving as personal representative of Shiela's estate, sued Mary Jourbran in her capacity as the personal representative of Elias's estate. Forest, FPI and several fictitiously named defendants were included in the suit. The complaint alleged that, at the time of the murder/suicide, Elias was under prescription for pharmaceuticals manufactured by defendants, including Forest and FPI, and that "Forest's Lexapro[] enhanced, enabled and aggravated [Elias's] depression and violent behaviors." The Alabama Legislature enacted section 6-5-530, Ala. Code 1975, "on the heels" of the Alabama Supreme Court's decision in Wyeth, Inc. v. Weeks, 159 So. 3d 649 (2014). In addressing the Weeks decision, section 6-5-530 specifically provided that a plaintiff who is suing based on personal injury, death, or property damage caused by a product "must prove ... that the defendant designed, manufactured, sold, or leased the particular product the use of which is alleged to have caused the injury on which the claim is based" regardless of the type of claims or theory of liability the plaintiff asserts. Because this case was a permissive appeal, the questions before the Supreme Court were limited to whether 6-5-530 effectively overruled Weeks, and whether a manufacturer could be held liable for an injury caused by a product it did not manufacture. The Court determined Section 6-5-530 abrogated Weeks: a pharmaceutical manufacturer cannot be held liable for injury caused by a product it did not manufacture. Based on the Court's answer to the trial court's certified question in the permissive appeal, it reversed the trial court's order denying Forest's motion for a summary judgment and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Forest Laboratories, LLC v. Feheley, Sr." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Allergan in an action under state law alleging that plaintiff suffered injuries when her breast implants bled silicone into her body. Through the Medical Device Amendments (MDA) to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), Congress permitted FDA oversight of medical devices; the MDA expressly preempts state law regulation of medical devices; and for a state law claim regarding a Class III medical device to survive express preemption by the MDA, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant violated an FDA requirement. In this case, the panel held that plaintiff failed to show that Allergan violated a federal requirement for its Style 20 breast implant. The panel held that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact that Allergan violated the FDA's pre-market approval and Current Good Manufacturing Practices. Therefore, plaintiff has now shown a violation of an FDA requirement, which she must for her state law claims to fit through the narrow exception to MDA preemption. View "Weber v. Allergan, Inc." on Justia Law

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Horizon’s patents generally relate to methods and compositions for treating osteoarthritis and share a substantially similar specification; there are method-of-use patents and formulation patents. Both groups of patents are listed in the FDA Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations (Orange Book) for Horizon’s PENNSAID® 2% product, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and the first FDA-approved twice-daily topical diclofenac sodium formulation for the treatment of pain of osteoarthritis of the knees. Prior art, PENNSAID® 1.5%, also treats osteoarthritis knee pain but differs from PENNSAID® 2% both in the formulation and recommended dosage. Actavis sought to market a generic version of PENNSAID 2% and filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) with certification under 21 U.S.C. 355(j)(2)(A)(vii)(IV), stating that the patents-at-issue were invalid or would not be infringed by Actavis’s generic product. Horizon filed an infringement suit under 35 U.S.C. 271(e)(2)(A). The Federal Circuit affirmed findings of invalidity and noninfringement, upholding claim construction that the terms “impurity A”; “degrades at less than 1% over 6 months”; and “consisting essentially of” are indefinite. Actavis’s ANDA label did not induce infringement of the method-of-use patent. View "HZNP Medicines LLC v. Actavis Laboratories UT, Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff filed suit against Mentor and Mentor Corporation for compensatory and punitive damages for injuries she suffered as a result of the surgical implantation of a polypropylene mesh sling manufactured by Mentor to treat her stress urinary incontinence, a jury found Mentor liable and awarded $400,000 in compensatory and $4 million in punitive damages. The district court upheld the jury's verdict with respect to liability and compensatory damages, but concluded that the punitive damages award exceeded Florida's statutory cap, reducing the punitive damages award to $2 million. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the trial court acted well within the bounds of its discretion in allowing the jury to consider an expert's testimony relating to specific causation and Mentor was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court also held that, in this case, which was focused on the physiological response to a design defect in a medical device, the dose-response relation was not implicated and there was no abuse of discretion in admitting the testimony. The court considered Mentor's remaining evidentiary challenges and held that the district court at no point exceeded the bounds of its discretion. Therefore, Mentor was not entitled to a new trial. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's reduction of the punitive damages award where evidence that Mentor knew of a high incidence of injury was not sufficient for finding a specific intent to harm. View "Taylor v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC" on Justia Law

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Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was the leading cause of cancer deaths in 2000. The standard for treating NSCLC was chemotherapy, which ameliorated some lung cancer-related symptoms, but was limited in use due to toxicity. In response to a need for a therapy that would effective and well-tolerated, investigators pursued targeted therapies as alternatives to chemotherapy. A great majority of alternative therapies for NSCLC failed in clinical trials. One compound that ultimately gained FDA approval was erlotinib. OSI markets erlotinib under the name Tarceva®, which is covered by the 221 patent, which issued in 2005. On inter partes review, the Patent Board found certain claims unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. 103, in light of prior art and the 10-K disclosure filed by OSI with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Federal Circuit reversed. Substantial evidence did not support the Board’s finding that the asserted combinations of prior art or prior art and the 10-K disclosures each would have provided a person of ordinary skill with a reasonable expectation of success in using erlotinib to treat NSCLC in a mammal. View "OSI Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Apotex Inc" on Justia Law