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Following all of the latest IP developments in life sciences.

 

Unqualified Antitrust Immunity: the In re Humira Decision

(Co-authored by Chelsea Loughran)

Scores of lawyers and stakeholders in the biologics industry had been eagerly awaiting guidance from a federal district court in the In re Humira (Adalimumab) Antitrust Litigation, which was filed in March 2019 by indirect purchasers of Humira® alleging anticompetitive behavior on the part of Humira® manufacturer, AbbVie Inc. (AbbVie). On June 10, 2020, Northern District of Illinois Judge Manish Shah granted AbbVie’s motion to dismiss the complaint, finding that the plaintiffs’ antitrust allegations were too speculative and therefore insufficient to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The decision suggests that patent “evergreening” practices akin to those the plaintiffs allege AbbVie has exercised will still be available to innovators who wish to find ways to increase patent term on their marketed reference biologics and maintain a dominant position in the market.

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One and Done: Federal Circuit Affirms No New Notice Requirement Under BPCIA for Supplement to aBLA That Does Not Alter Biosimilar Structure

(Co-authored by Suresh Rav, Summer Associate)

Overview

On July 6, 2020, the Federal Circuit affirmed denial of Genentech’s motions to enjoin Amgen from marketing MVASI (bevacizumab-awwb), a biosimilar version of Genentech’s AVASTIN® (bevacizumab), an anti-angiogenic agent indicated for treating metastatic colorectal cancer in combination with certain other chemotherapies. The Federal Circuit held that filing a supplement to a previous biosimilar application does not trigger new notice requirements unless the biologic itself has changed. Both the district court and the Federal Circuit focused on the statutory language of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”), particularly the relationship between § 262 (l)(8)(A) “Notice of Commercial Marketing” (“subsection (l)(8)(A)”) and § 262 (k) “Licensure” (“subsection (k)”). The Federal Circuit concluded that changes made under subsection (k) that do not alter the biosimilar’s chemical or biological structure do not require new notice under subsection (l)(8)(A).

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Hospira Requests En Banc Review as to its Entitlement to Safe Harbor Protections for Manufacturing its Epogen® Biosimilar

Overview

On January 15, 2020, Hospira, Inc. filed a petition for rehearing en banc of the Federal Circuit’s December 16, 2019 panel decision in Amgen, Inc. v. Hospira, Inc., Nos. 2019-1067, 2019-1102 (Fed.Cir. 2019) in which Hospira lost on the issue of whether its EPO biosimilar manufacturing activities are entitled to Safe Harbor protections. The petition requested review on the question of “[w]hether 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1) provides a safe harbor against infringement of patents claiming a method of manufacture, when the product manufactured is used to generate information for submission to the Food and Drug Administration (‘FDA’) in order to seek approval of a biosimilar drug.” Petition, page 1.  Hospira also alleges that the panel decision is contrary to the Safe Harbor precedent of the US Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit, as well as erring in its claim construction by improperly “reading out a claim limitation” relating to the meaning of “mixture…of isoforms.” The Federal Circuit has yet to decide on the petition.

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The Purple Book: The FDA Announces Welcome Enhancements

Earlier this week, the FDA announced that it has made enhancements to the Purple Book. These changes improve how information related to biological and biosimilar products is accessed through the use of a simple internet search. For readers unfamiliar with the Purple Book, it is a database of FDA-licensed biological products. However, until these recent updates, the Purple Book only existed as two lists, one from the Center for Biologic Evaluation and Research and one from the Center of Drug Evaluation and Research. Both of these lists contained current licensed biological products with reference to product exclusivity and any biosimilarity or interchangeability evaluations that have occurred. But unlike the Orange Book for FDA-approved small molecule drugs, the Purple Book does not contain a list of patents covering the drug or its use. Instead, the Purple Book includes significant dates for information relevant to the procedures outlined in the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) for the approval and patent-resolution processes for biosimilar versions of approved biologic drugs. These dates and information include the date the product was licensed, and whether the FDA has evaluated it for reference product exclusivity.

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