September 17, 2020 Update: The Trump administration is currently considering accelerating the approval of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. In line with FDA’s June 2020 guidance on the development and licensure of Covid-19 vaccines, it appears that the administration is considering granting Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the vaccine. However, Michael Caputo, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which includes FDA, has dismissed the idea that an EUA for the vaccine would issue before November 2020. Phase 3 clinical trials for the vaccine were paused earlier this month after a participant became seriously ill, but have since resumed in the United Kingdom. The vaccine is currently one of three in Phase 3 clinical trials. See below for more information on EUA and FDA’s other tools for expediting the review and approval of promising Covid-19 biologic treatments or vaccines.
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Biologics Blog is a source of insights, information and analysis related to biologics, including the legal developments, trends and changing regulation that impact the biotechnology industry. Patterson Belknap represents biotechnology, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies in a broad range of patent litigation matters, including patent infringement cases, PTO trial proceedings, patent licensing and other contractual disputes. Our team includes highly experienced trial attorneys with extensive technical knowledge, many of whom have advanced scientific degrees and industry experience in fields such as molecular biology, biochemistry, chemistry, statistics and nuclear engineering.
Earlier this month, in Immunex Corp. v. Sandoz Inc., the Federal Circuit upheld two patents covering Enbrel’s active protein and a process used to manufacture the drug, effectively blocking Sandoz’s Enbrel® biosimilar Erelzi from the U.S. market until 2029 and providing a major victory for Amgen. Enbrel is the brand name for the molecule etanercept, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and several other inflammatory conditions. A blockbuster drug, last year Enbrel generated over $5.2 billion in sales for Amgen, representing 22% of the company’s revenue.
Recently, in Amgen Inc. v. Hospira, Inc., the Federal Circuit clarified the limits of the Safe Harbor defense in cases involving patented manufacturing methods.
In a case brought in the District of Delaware, Amgen alleged that Hospira infringed several patent claims over methods of manufacturing erythropoietin (EPO), a biologic drug used to treat anemia. Following a trial, a jury issued a $70 million verdict for Amgen, which was based in part on the jury’s conclusion that fourteen batches of drug substance for Hospira’s EPO biosimilar product were not covered by the Safe Harbor provision of 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1). After the district court denied Hospira’s motion for judgment as a matter of law or alternatively for a new trial, Hospira appealed on a number of issues, including the jury instructions and jury findings on its Safe Harbor defense.
Last week, Mylan and Biocon announced the U.S. launch of Ogivri™ (trasuzumab-dkst), a biosimilar to Herceptin® (trasuzumab). Genentech’s Herceptin, which was first approved in 1998, is a monoclonal antibody used to treat breast cancer and metastatic stomach cancer.
In Mayo, Federal Circuit Seeks to Head Off Disputes Over When Claims Are “Deemed Allowable” by Counting Continued Examination Time Until Notice of Allowance
Earlier this week, the Federal Circuit declined to further extend the patent term of an antibody patent held by the Mayo Foundation. In Mayo Foundation v. Iancu, the court held that the time spent on a request for continued examination (“RCE”) following a declaration of interference did not count toward the three-year application pendency period for purposes of patent term extension. As discussed below, the Mayo decision could have implications for the terms of biologics patents issued following a request for continued examination.
In Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, the Supreme Court suggested that whether inter partes reviews (“IPRs”) apply to pre-AIA patents is an open constitutional question. But following the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Celgene Corp. v. Peter, it appears that retroactive IPRs are here to stay, at least for now.
Federal Circuit Dismisses Momenta IPR Appeal for Lack of Standing and Mootness After Momenta Abandons Orencia® Biosimilar
Last week, the Federal Circuit issued its long-awaited opinion in Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., No. 2017-1694, slip op. (Fed. Cir. Feb. 7, 2019). While many had hoped the decision would provide clarity on whether a biosimilar maker who has not yet filed an aBLA has standing to appeal a PTAB decision upholding an innovator patent, the Federal Circuit instead dismissed the appeal for lack of standing and mootness based on post-appeal developments making it clear that Momenta had abandoned its efforts to develop the biosimilar in question. Nevertheless, Momenta is important in that it illustrates the continued risk to biosimilar makers of unappealable IPR decisions when they bring IPRs years before filing an aBLA.
Earlier this month, the President signed into law the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (Public Law 115-263). The Act mainly focuses on eliminating so-called “gag clauses” that prevent pharmacists from telling patients when paying for a drug out of pocket is cheaper than paying through insurance. In addition, the Act amends the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-173) to require branded drug companies and biosimilar applicants to disclose settlement agreements relating to the “manufacture, marketing, or sale” of biosimilar products to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) for evaluation under the antitrust laws. The new legislation brings biosimilar litigation in line with ANDA litigation, for which the same disclosure requirements were already in place.
In Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., No. 17-1694 (Fed. Cir. argued Dec. 5, 2017), BMS challenges Momenta’s standing to appeal a PTAB decision upholding the validity of BMS’s patent relating to a formulation of Orencia® (abatacept) in an IPR brought by Momenta before having filed a biosimilar marketing application. The Federal Circuit is expected to decide whether a petitioner must have filed a marketing application in order to have Article III standing to appeal from an unfavorable PTAB decision. As months have passed without a decision, Momenta and BMS have both used the time to further press their case.
Analytical studies to demonstrate that a biosimilar is highly similar to its reference product are central to the biosimilar development and approval process. For this reason, there have been calls from industry for more guidance from FDA on its expectations for evaluating and demonstrating analytical similarity.
Win or Go Home? Standing to Appeal PTAB Decisions Upholding Patentability to the Federal Circuit Before Submitting a Biosimilar Marketing Application
Biosimilar developers have been aggressive in filing petitions for inter partes reviews (IPRs) of biologics patents before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), many of them preceding the filing of a marketing application. Such early IPRs are attractive to biosimilar makers, because they provide a chance to challenge innovator patents years before the biosimilar maker files a marketing application with FDA. Since a petitioner need not have Article III case-or-controversy standing to bring an IPR, the remoteness and uncertainty of future infringement in such circumstances does not preclude these early IPRs. Under settled precedent, however, a biosimilar maker must have Article III standing to seek a Federal Circuit appeal if the PTAB issues a final decision upholding the challenged patent. A decision expected from the Federal Circuit this quarter in Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., No. 17-1694 (Fed. Cir. argued Dec. 5, 2017) will address how and when a biosimilar maker can establish that standing.
In public debates over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, biosimilars are rarely, if ever, mentioned. But the U.S. biosimilar statute, the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA), was in fact enacted as part of Obamacare — specifically, as Title VII to the ACA. Although the BPCIA is no longer politically controversial, it could, at least theoretically, be swept up in a blanket repeal of Obamacare, if a bill repealing the ACA did not contain an appropriate carve-out.
Today, Judge Gregory Sleet of the U.S. District Court of Delaware orally dismissed Genentech’s lawsuit against Amgen alleging violations of the BPCIA. Judge Sleet did not issue a written opinion, but his order states that the case is dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction in light of Amgen v. Sandoz, 794 F.3d 1347 (Fed. Cir. 2015).