Justia Drugs & Biotech Opinion Summaries

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Amgen created and commercialized two related biologic products, filgrastim (Neupogen®) and pegfilgrastim (Neulasta®), indicated for treating neutropenia, a deficiency of white blood cells. Neutropenia often results from exposure to certain chemotherapeutic regimens or radiation therapy during cancer treatment. In 2014, Sandoz submitted to the FDA an abbreviated Biologics License Application (aBLA) to market a biosimilar filgrastim product. While Sandoz’s aBLA referenced Neupogen®, Sandoz elected not to provide Amgen with its aBLA or manufacturing information. Amgen sought a declaratory judgment that Sandoz’s proposed biosimilar would infringe its patent, Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, 35 U.S.C. 271(e)(2)(C); 42 U.S.C. 262(l)(9)(C) Sandoz received FDA approval for its filgrastim biosimilar, Zarxio®. After Sandoz launched Zarxio®, Amgen amended its complaint to plead infringement under 35 U.S.C. 271(e)(2)(C)(ii), (g). In 2015, Sandoz submitted an aBLA to market a biosimilar pegfilgrastim product referencing Neulasta®. Amgen filed a complaint, alleging infringement of that patent. Sandoz has not yet received approval for its proposed pegfilgrastim biosimilar. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment of noninfringement, upholding the district court’s construction of “disease treating-effective amount of at least one chemotherapeutic agent” as limited to “[a]n amount sufficient to treat a disease for which at least one chemotherapeutic agent is prescribed.” View "Amgen Inc. v. Sandoz Inc." on Justia Law

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The 779 Patent, entitled “Process for Preparing Morphinan-6-One Products with Low Levels of α,β-Unsaturated Ketone Compounds,” generally relates to compounds known as “morphinan alkaloids,” such as “oxymorphone,” which have “great medical importance” and “are used extensively for pain relief.” Endo, which licenses the patent, sued, alleging that two Abbreviated New Drug Applications filed by Actavis infringed claims in the patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed an infringement finding, concluding that Actavis failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that any of the asserted claims were invalid as obvious or anticipated. The district court correctly construed 14-hydroxymorphinone as 14-hydroxymorphinone hydrochloride. The claims were not obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103(a); a person of ordinary skill in the art would not have a reasonable expectation of success in combining the prior art. View "Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Actavis, LLC" on Justia Law

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Amarin markets Vascepa®, a prescription drug consisting of eicosapentaenoic acid in ethyl ester form, synthetically produced from fish oil, intended to reduce triglyceride levels in adult patients with severe hypertriglyceridemia. Vascepa® is the only FDA-approved purified ethyl ester E-EPA product sold in the U.S. Amarin filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) under 19 U.S.C. 1337 (Tariff Act), alleging that certain companies were falsely labeling and deceptively advertising their imported synthetically produced omega-3 products as “dietary supplements,” where the products are actually “new drugs” under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) that have not been approved for use in the U.S. Amarin claimed that their importation and sale was an unfair act or unfair method of competition because it violates the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), and the Tariff Act “based upon" FDCA standards. The FDA urged the Commission not to institute an investigation and to dismiss Amarin’s complaint, arguing that the FDCA prohibits private enforcement actions and precludes any claim that would “require[] the Commission to directly apply, enforce, or interpret the FDCA.” The ITC and Federal Circuit agreed.Amarin’s allegations are based entirely on FDCA violations; such claims are precluded by the FDCA, where the FDA has not yet provided guidance as to whether violations have occurred. Although Amarin claimed violations of the Tariff Act, its claims constituted an attempt to enforce the FDCA. View "Amarin Pharma, Inc. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Eli Lilly’s patent relates to administering folic acid and a methylmalonic acid (MMA) lowering agent, such as vitamin B12, before administering pemetrexed disodium, a chemotherapy agent, in order to reduce the toxic effects of pemetrexed, an antifolate. In inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeals Board rejected arguments that certain claims were unpatentable as obvious, 36 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s finding that the prior art did not provide a motivation for a skilled artisan to administer an MMA lowering agent, such as vitamin B12, in addition to folic acid. View "Neptune Generics, LLC v. Eli Lilly & Co." on Justia Law

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The patents at issue are listed in the FDA’s Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations (Orange Book) for NUCYNTA® ER (extended release), a tapentadol hydrochloride tablet. The 364 patent is directed to the Form A polymorph of the chemical compound tapentadol hydrochloride and a method of treating pain and/or urinary incontinence and states that Form A “is very stable at ambient conditions and therefore useful for producing a pharmaceutical composition.” The 130 patent describes a method of using tapentadol and tapentadol hydrochloride for the treatment of polyneuropathic pain, which is caused by damage to multiple nerves. In an infringement suit, stemming from Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) filings seeking to market generic versions of immediate and extended release tapentadol hydrochloride tablets, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court in finding that the 364 patent is not invalid for obviousness or lack of utility (the defendants had stipulated to infringement) and that the ANDA filings do not infringe the 130 patent, which is not invalid as anticipated. View "Grunenthal GMBH v. Alkem Laboratories Limited" on Justia Law

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Endo’s patent, entitled “Method of treating pain utilizing controlled release oxymorphone pharmaceutical compositions and instruction on dosing for renal impairment,” covers a method of using oxymorphone to treat pain in patients with impaired kidney function. Controlled-release dosage forms that maintain optimal levels of pain relief for longer periods are useful to patients and clinicians. Patients’ pain relief levels can be impacted by the way their body processes oxymorphone. The inventor discovered that patients with moderately or severely impaired kidney function need less oxymorphone than usual to achieve a similar level of pain management. The Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s conclusion that the claims were patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101. The district court incorrectly concluded that the claims at issue are directed to a natural law. The claims prescribe a regimen for specific patients, using a specific compound at specific doses to achieve a specific outcome. Claiming a new treatment for an ailment, albeit using a natural law, is not claiming the natural law. View "Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this multi-district litigation, plaintiffs brought a series of products liability actions against the makers of Eliquis for injuries they or their decedents suffered while taking the drug. In the multi-district litigation, the district court denied motions to remand many of the actions to state court and then dismissed 64 suits. The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that 28 U.S.C. 1441(b)(2) was no barrier to the removal of the transferred actions at issue. The court held that a home‐state defendant may in limited circumstances remove actions filed in state court on the basis of diversity of citizenship, was authorized by the text of Section 1441(b)(2), and was neither absurd nor fundamentally unfair. The court also affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' negligence and strict liability claims as preempted by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. In this case, plaintiffs' claims consisted of conclusory and vague allegations and did not plausibly allege the existence of newly acquired information. Therefore, plaintiffs' allegations were insufficient to state a claim that was not preempted. View "Gibbons v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co." on Justia Law

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Natural owns patents relating to dietary supplements containing beta-alanine (an amino acid). Together with histidine, another amino acid, beta-alanine can form dipeptides that are involved in the regulation of intracellular pH during muscle contraction and development of fatigue. Variations in dipeptide concentrations affect the anaerobic work capacity of athletes. One dipeptide, carnosine, contributes to hydronium ion buffering. During certain sustained exercise, hydronium ions and lactate can accumulate and severely reduce intracellular pH; reduced pH interferes with the creatine-phosphorylcreatine system, part of the process by which energy is generated in muscle cells. Natural's patents generally relate to the use of beta-alanine in a dietary supplement to “increas[e] the anaerobic working capacity of muscle and other tissue.” The district court applied the Supreme Court’s 2015 two-part “Alice” test and held all of the asserted claims were directed to patent ineligible subject matter (35 U.S.C. 101_ and lacked an inventive concept. The Federal Circuit reversed. Under Natural’s proposed claim constructions, the Method Claims are not directed to an exception to section 101 under the first step of the Alice test, so judgment on the pleadings was inappropriate. The Product Claims contain a dietary supplement limitation, with the same proposed construction, which does not support the idea that this limitation was well-understood, routine, and conventional. The Manufacturing Claims are not directed to the natural law or product of nature, but are an application of the law and new use of that product. View "Natural Alternatives International, Inc.. v. Creative Compunds, LLC" on Justia Law

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Drug manufacturers filed Abbreviated New Drug Applications with the Food and Drug Administration seeking to market generic versions of Saphris, a drug product sold by Forest Laboratories. Saphris is a sublingually administered, atypical antipsychotic containing asenapine maleate. Forest sued for patent infringement, asserting that the proposed generic products would infringe claims of its patents. The district court held the generic manufacturers had not established certain claims to be invalid and held Forest had not established infringement of certain claims as to two manufacturers. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the validity determination, and for reconsideration infringement under a corrected claim construction. The district court erred in treating “excitation” as being limited to “excitation disorders.” The court rejected claims concerning sufficient written description, obviousness, and the construction of other claims. View "Forest Laboratories, LLC v. Sigmapharm Laboratories, LLC" on Justia Law

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Shire manufactured and marketed the lucrative drug Vancocin, which is used to treat a life-threatening gastrointestinal infection. After Shire learned that manufacturers were considering making generic equivalents to Vancocin, it inundated the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with allegedly meritless filings to delay approval of those generics. The FDA eventually rejected Shire’s filings and approved generic equivalents to Vancocin. The filings resulted in a high cost to consumers. Shire had delayed generic entry for years and reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. Nearly five years later, after Shire had divested itself of Vancocin, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed suit against Shire under Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 53(b), seeking a permanent injunction and restitution, and alleging that Shire’s petitioning was an unfair method of competition. The district court dismissed, finding that the FTC’s allegations of long-past petitioning activity failed to satisfy Section 13(b)’s requirement that Shire “is violating” or “is about to violate” the law. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting “the FTC’s invitation to stretch Section 13(b) beyond its clear text.” The FTC admits that Shire is not currently violating the law and did not allege that Shire is about to violate the law. View "Federal Trade Commission v. Shire ViroPharma Inc" on Justia Law