Justia Drugs & Biotech Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Drugs & Biotech
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Doctor Shakeel Kahn (Dr. Kahn) was convicted in federal district court in Wyoming, in part, for dispensing controlled substances not “as authorized,” in violation of the Controlled Substances Act (the CSA). Included in his appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals was his contention that the jury instructions issued by the district court improperly advised the jury regarding the mens rea requirement of CSA § 841(a). The Tenth Circuit affirmed Dr. Kahn’s convictions, rejecting both his challenge to the instructions given, and his challenges to multiple searches and the evidence seized. In upholding the instructions, the Tenth Circuit relied on precedent, United States v. Nelson, 383 F.3d 1227 (10th Cir. 2004), and further reaffirmed its holding, which was guided by 21 C.F.R. § 1306.04(a). Dr. Kahn appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, raising only his instructional challenge. The Supreme Court held that § 841(a)’s “knowingly or intentionally” mens rea applied to the “except as authorized” clause of the statute, vacated the Tenth Circuit's judgment, and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. The parties submitted supplemental briefing, and the matter went again before the Tenth Circuit. After review, the Tenth Circuit concluded the jury instructions issued in Dr. Kahn’s trial incorrectly stated the mens rea requirement of § 841(a) and the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. This prejudicial error infected all of Dr. Kahn’s convictions. Therefore, Dr. Kahn’s convictions were v View "United States v. Kahn" on Justia Law

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Drug makers participating in Medicare or Medicaid must offer their drugs at a discount to certain “covered entities,” which typically provide healthcare to low-income and rural individuals, 42 U.S.C. 256b, 1396r-8(a)(1), (5) (Section 340B). Initially, few covered entities had in-house pharmacies. A 1996 HHS guidance stated that covered entities could use one outside contract pharmacy each; a 2010 HHS guidance stated that covered entities could use an unlimited number of contract pharmacies. Drug makers thought that contract pharmacies were driving up duplicate discounting and diversion and adopted policies to limit any covered entity’s use of multiple contract pharmacies. A 2020 HHS Advisory Opinion declared that Section 340B required drug makers to deliver discounted drugs to an unlimited number of contract pharmacies.In 2010, Congress told HHS to establish a process for drug makers and covered entities to resolve Section 340B–related disputes. In 2016, HHS issued a notice of proposed rulemaking and accepted comments on the proposed ADR Rule. HHS subsequently listed the proposed rule as withdrawn. In 2020, HHS stated that it had just “paus[ed] action on the proposed rule,” responded to the four-year-old comments. and issued a final ADR Rule.Drug companies sued. The Third Circuit held that Section 340B does not require drug makers to deliver discounted drugs to an unlimited number of contract pharmacies. HHS did not violate the APA by purporting to withdraw the proposed ADR Rule before later finalizing it. View "Sanofi Aventis US LLC v. United States Department of Health and Human Services" on Justia Law

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Lawsuits brought by governmental bodies and health clinics alleged that Quest, a wholesale pharmaceutical distributor, engaged in misconduct that contributed to a nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse. The plaintiffs plead violations of the RICO Act and state statutes, common law public nuisance, and negligence, seeking damages for “significant expenses for police, emergency, health, prosecution, corrections, rehabilitation, and other services.” Some complaints clarify that the claims “are not based upon or derivative of the rights of others” and that the plaintiffs “do not seek damages for death, physical injury to person, emotional distress, or physical damages to property[.]”Quest's insurance policies covered "damages because of 'bodily injury' or 'property damage'" and explain that “[d]amages because of ‘bodily injury’ include damages claimed by any person or organization for care, loss of services or death resulting at any time from the ‘bodily injury.’” “Bodily injury” is defined as “bodily injury, sickness or disease sustained by a person, including death resulting from any of these at any time.”The insurers sought declaratory judgments that they had no duty to defend or indemnify Quest. The district court granted the insurers summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Based on the plain language of the policies and their overall context and purpose, the court concluded that the Kentucky Supreme Court would find that the insurers have no duty to defend because the lawsuits do not seek damages “because of bodily injury” and claim only economic damages. View "Westfield National Insurance Co. v. Quest Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

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Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, a drug may receive “new chemical entity exclusivity” if no active ingredient in the drug was previously “approved.” The drug Aubagio was awarded this exclusivity because the Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) determined that Aubagio’s only active ingredient, teriflunomide, had never previously been approved. This case concerns a challenge to Aubagio’s exclusivity period, which Sandoz Inc. raises to secure a solo period of marketing exclusivity for its generic equivalent. Sandoz maintains that teriflunomide was previously “approved” as an impurity in the drug Arava. In the alternative, Sandoz argued that teriflunomide was in fact approved as an active ingredient in Arava. The district court granted summary judgment for the FDA, agreeing with the agency that Aubagio was entitled to exclusivity because teriflunomide had never previously been approved.   The DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment. The court held that while Sandoz did not exhaust its statutory argument before the FDA, in the absence of a statutory or regulatory exhaustion requirement, the court found it appropriate to decide Sandoz’s challenge. When the FDA approves a new drug, it does not also “approve” known impurities in that drug for the purpose of new chemical entity exclusivity. And the record is clear the FDA did not approve teriflunomide as an active ingredient when it approved Arava. Aubagio was therefore entitled to new chemical entity exclusivity, and Sandoz cannot benefit from a solo exclusivity period for its generic equivalent. View "Sandoz Inc. v. Xavier Becerra" on Justia Law

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In this appeal arising out of a multidistrict litigation concerning the pharmaceutical drug ondansetron hydrochloride, better known as Zofran, the First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Various plaintiffs filed separate lawsuits alleging that the use of Zofran during pregnancy caused birth defects and that GSK engaged in an intentionally misleading plan to market Zofran for pregnancy in violation of state law. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of GSK, holding that federal law preempted Plaintiffs' state law claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that federal law preempted Plaintiffs' state law claims that GSK should have warned both prescribing doctors and pregnant people that "animal studies showed harm to the fetus when Zofran was ingested during pregnancy." View "Perham v. GlaxoSmithKline, LLC" on Justia Law

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Pirfenidone is a drug used to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a chronic, irreversible lung disease. There is no cure for IPF. Patients living with the disease face an average survival of two-five years. The FDA has approved two drugs for the treatment of IPF, pirfenidone, and nintedanib; differences center on side effects and metabolism. Pirfenidone was first studied as an investigational new drug in 1973. In 2004, the FDA granted pirfenidone orphan drug status for treatment of IPF. In 2014, pirfenidone was approved to treat IPF in the U.S. as Esbriet®, sold by Genentech. Sandoz submitted two Abbreviated New Drug Applications, seeking FDA approval to market a generic version of pirfenidone. Genentech then brought this Hatch-Waxman suit, asserting that Sandoz’s generic product would induce the infringement of its patents. The asserted patents do not claim pirfenidone itself, or the use of pirfenidone to treat IPF but claim methods for managing side effects when using pirfenidone to treat IPF.The Federal Circuit affirmed district court holdings that the claims of Genentech’s Liver Function Test patents are unpatentable as obvious, sales of Sandoz’s generic product would not induce infringement of the LFT patents, and sale of Sandoz’s generic product would not directly infringe Genentech’s Drug-Drug Interaction patents. View "Genentech, Inc. v. Sandoz Inc." on Justia Law

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Amiodarone was developed in the 1960s for the treatment of angina and was released in other countries. Amiodarone is associated with side effects, including pulmonary fibrosis, blindness, thyroid cancer, and death. In the 1970s, U.S. physicians began obtaining amiodarone from other countries for use in patients with life-threatening ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia who did not respond to other drugs. In 1985, the FDA approved Wyeth’s formulation of amiodarone, Cordarone, as a drug of last resort for patients suffering from recurring life-threatening ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. The FDA’s “special needs” approval issued without randomized clinical trials. In 1989, the FDA described Wyeth’s promotional activities as promoting an unapproved use of the drug. In 1992, the FDA objected to promotional labeling pieces for Cordarone. Other manufacturers developed generic amiodarone, which has been available since 1998.Consolidated lawsuits alleged that plaintiffs suffered unnecessary, serious side effects when they took amiodarone, as prescribed by their doctors, for off-label use to treat atrial fibrillation, a more common, less serious, condition than ventricular fibrillation. The FDA never approved amiodarone for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, even on a special-needs basis. The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuits. The claims are preempted as attempts to privately enforce the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. 301, regulations governing medication guides and labeling and have no independent basis in state law. The court also rejected fraud claims under California’s unfair competition law and Consumers Legal Remedy Act. View "Amiodarone Cases" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from an Idaho district court decision affirming a declaratory ruling issued by Respondent Dave Jeppesen (the Director) in his capacity as Director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (the Department). Appellant Grace at Twin Falls, LLC (Grace), a residential assisted living and memory care facility, partnered with a preferred pharmacy to offset costs associated with a software system that coordinated the tracking and delivery of residents’ prescription medications. Because residents who failed to choose the preferred pharmacy did not receive the offset, Grace sought to charge those residents an additional $10.00 each month to cover the difference. Grace brought a petition for declaratory ruling to the Department, asking the Director to declare that Idaho Code section 39-3316(12)(b) and IDAPA 16.03.22.550.12.b did not prohibit Grace from charging the $10.00 fee to those residents who did not choose the preferred pharmacy. The Director denied the petition, declaring that Grace would not “be permitted to assess a non-preferred-pharmacy fee as such fee violates residents’ right to choose their pharmacy or pharmacist . . . .” Grace sought judicial review before the district court, which affirmed the Director’s declaratory ruling. Grace then appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Grace at Twin Falls, LLC v. Jeppesen" on Justia Law

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Liquid Labs manufactures and sells e-liquids that generally contain nicotine and flavoring for use in e-cigarettes. The e-liquids qualify as “new tobacco product[s]” under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, 21 U.S.C. 387-387u, and may not be introduced into interstate commerce without the FDA’s authorization. The FDA must deny a premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) if the applicant fails to “show[] that permitting such tobacco product to be marketed would be appropriate for the protection of public health,” as determined with respect to the risks and benefits to the population as a whole, including users and non-users of the tobacco product.” FDA Guidelines have highlighted that flavored e-liquids’ had a “disproportionate appeal to children.”Liquid Labs submitted PMTAs covering 20 e-liquid products and submitted a marketing plan setting forth plans to discourage youths from using its products. The FDA denied the PMTAs, concluding that Liquid Labs had not shown that the benefits of the products sufficiently outweighed the risks they posed to youths. The documents indicated that evidence could have been provided through “randomized controlled trial[s] and/or longitudinal cohort stud[ies],” or other evidence that reliably and robustly evaluated the impact of the new flavored vs. tobacco-flavored products on adult smokers’ switching or cigarette reduction over time.” The Third Circuit denied a petition for review. The FDA’s order was within its statutory authorities and the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Liquid Labs LLC v. United States Food and Drug Administration" on Justia Law

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April Mancini owned the Jah Healing Kemetic Temple of the Divine Church, Inc. (the Church), whose adherents consume cannabis blessed by Church pastors as “sacrament.” The County of San Bernardino (the County) determined that the Church routinely sold cannabis products in violation of a County ordinance prohibiting commercial cannabis activity on unincorporated County land. The trial court found that the Church was operating an illegal cannabis dispensary and issued a permanent injunction against Mancini and the Church, among other relief. Mancini and the Church appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "County of Santa Barbara v. Mancini" on Justia Law