IPWatchdog is conducting voting for the top patent law blogs and has listed around 50 blogs to select from. Incidentally
Friday, May 29, 2009
IPWatchdog is conducting voting for the top patent law blogs and has listed around 50 blogs to select from. Incidentally
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Revolutionary anticancer drug Tarceva seems to be moving more into problems now. Last month, the Delhi High Court in highly unexpected findings that may create setback for drug research companies in India concluded that if an active ingredient (Erlotinib hydrochloride) of the drug (Tarceva) is sold in a polymorphic Form then that active ingredient in not covered/protected by the compound (drug substance) patent. To cut short, Pfizer received Indian Patent No. 196774 (the ‘774 patent) for Erlotinib hydrochloride (corresponding of US 5,747,498) and had a pending application for polymorphic Form B of Erlotinib hydrochloride (corresponding of US 6,900,221) which eventually got rejected in pre-grant opposition filed by Cipla. Both corresponding US patents are listed with Orange Book as Tarceva marketed tablet formulation contain polymorphic Form B. Roche brought infringement suit against Cipla with respect to granted patent in India (the ‘774 patent) but in counter-claim Cipla argued (rather framed argument) that Tarceva sold in India is polymorphic Form B of Erlotinib hydrochloride and not Erlotinib hydrochloride per se covered by granted the ‘774 patent. The Court unhesitantly agreed with Cipla’s arguments that Tarceva sold in
“A novel [6,7-bis(2-methoxyethoxy)quinazolin-4-yl]-(3-ethynylphenyl) amine hydrochloride compound of the formula A.”
Clearly the independent claim is no where restricted to any polymorph form or admixture polymorph A and B of Erlotinib hydrochloride (as argued by Cipla). The independent claim is covering compound Erlotinib hydrochloride per se and technically such claim cannot be circumvented and designed around by any polymorphic Form of Erlotinib hydrochloride (even a fresher working in pharmaceutical patents reasonably knows that). Why the divisional bench do not refer to the claims of the ‘774 patent? Though after reading the case we feel even the divisional bench would have referred the claims of the ‘774 patent they would not have understood anything (we are least confident about the divisional bench familiarity with basic pharmaceutical science and claim construction). But what is really interesting is the tactic used by Cipla’s lawyers (though completely and technically fallacious) that worked in favor of Cipla. What Roche lawyers can do in a case where unexpected arguments were raised by Cipla’s lawyers (which they possibly never thought in wildest dream) and the divisional bench was not familiar with nuances of basic pharmaceutical science and patent? Just imagining what Roche counsels back in Swiss Headquarters thinking about the judgment?
At least this case gives a cautionary picture that patentees should not be surprised to hear any unexpected reasoning from the judiciary and may think twice before spending money in procuring patents in
Coming back to Tarceva, lately the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a black box warning for Tarceva (read here). In a letter dated April 2009, Genentech and OSI said that there had been reports of patients suffering gastrointestinal perforations while undergoing Tarceva therapy. This risk is greatest for patients receiving concomitant anti-angiogenic agents, corticosteroids, NSAIDs, and/or taxane-based chemotherapy, or who have prior history of peptic ulceration or diverticular disease. According to the letter, some instances of perforation had been fatal. The letter also said that some Tarceva patients had developed bullous, blistering and exfoliative skin conditions, which in some cases were suggestive of Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis. Finally, the letter warned that patients treated with Tarceva had experienced corneal perforation or ulceration. Other eye disorders including abnormal eyelash growth, keratoconjunctivitis sicca and keratitis, have also been observed with Tarceva treatment. Last year in October, we reported Tarceva post-approval study reported a death. Such studies and report are often done by Innovator to avoid any post-launch tragedy.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Pfizer is involved in a post-grant opposition proceeding for its patent covering hugely popular antismoking drug Chantix. The post-grant opposition is filed by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories against the Indian Patent No. 204091 (the ‘091 patent) covering tartrate salt of Varenicline, the active ingredient of Chantix. The ‘091 patent is issued against the Application No. 863/MUMNP/2003 and corresponding of Orange Book listed US Patent Nos. 6,890,927 and 7,265,119. Last year in February, Pfizer launched the Varenicline prescription drug in
We really wonder and concern whether the Indian Drug Regulatory had taken the Varenicline adverse reports seriously enough (read Mint story) and into consideration before giving marketing approval in
Friday, May 01, 2009
Finally after quite a hectic work schedule, we got some time to bring analysis on recent judgment by the Delhi HC in a high-profile patent litigation case between Roche and Cipla. On 24th April, the divisional bench at the Delhi HC dismissed an appeal made by Roche against a last year single judge decision (dated 19th March 2008) that rejected their appeal for grant of temporary injunction to restrain Cipla from manufacturing, offering for sale, selling and exporting the drug Erlotinib. Almost every leading Indian newspaper covered judgment story, some even provided sort of expert analysis on the judgment. In fact, daily English newspaper Mint quoted “judgment certainly go down as a landmark ruling.” We made this judgment publicly available and downloadable on our blog for our readers on April 27. Hope many of our readers have already gone through the judgment and may also reviewed the decision for its merit both on legal and technical grounds. However, before we proceed with our (as usual) critical analysis on this judgment we would like to know from our readers – how many of our readers think the decision is a landmark judgment? And how many consider the judgment not only lacked to take into account basic technical knowledge but also lacked basic ABC of pharmaceutical patent, reflecting sheer inability of judiciary to handle even not so complex patent issues? Will this judgment possibly go down as a low of Indian patent law? We would surely love to know our readers’ comments on this. This judgment is not a mere judgment but an eye opener to many believing in intellectual property to rethink before investing in research and innovation in
After the single judge rejected Roche’s appeal for temporary injunction against Cipla, Roche appealed the single judge decision. However, before deciding the case, the divisional bench reviewed the proceedings and conclusion of the single judge. The divisional bench particularly noted two points in Roche’s plaint made before single judge – (1) Patent No. 196774 (the ‘774 patent) is granted for Erlotinib hydrochloride marketed as Tarceva, and (2) no details of the specification of the ‘774 patent or the x-ray diffraction of Tarceva or Cipla’s generic product (Erlocip) was indicated [wonder why XRD data is asked by the single judge/divisional bench, particularly when Roche filed for infringement of Erlotinib drug compound patent not a particular polymorph patent?]. The divisional bench also noted arguments made by Cipla before single judge against the injunction application which include the following notable points.
(1) questioned the date of grant of patent, and also argued patent could not be presumed to be valid unless it was more than six years old,
(2) argued invalidity of patent under section 3(d) and obvious to a person skilled in the art, particularly argued the alleged patented product (Erlotinib) is nothing but a derivative from Gefitinib,
(3) argued patent is not worked fully and commercially in
(4) argued public interest issue that the drug should be made available at cheap and affordable prices.
(5) placed US Pat. No. 6,900,221 (the ‘221 patent) on records filed by OSI for polymorphic Form B of Erlotinib hydrochloride. [this was interestingly deceptive move by Cipla]
The divisional bench also noted counter-claim arguments made by Cipla before single judge, most importantly the argument stating that the ‘221 patent clearly stated that the compound Erlotinib hydrochloride was a mixture of two polymorphs A&B and that one needed to separate and purify that polymorphic Form B so as to get to the claimed compound (Erlotinib) for acceptable efficacy. Further adding that the ‘221 patent clearly defeated the inventive step of alleged invention (the ‘774 patent). [Does this mean that later dated patent is a prior art for earlier dated patent? Quite a new concept framed by Cipla and that too for “compound per se patent”] Cipla further argued [now this is the trick that made real impact on deceiving and confusing both single judge as well as the divisional bench] the ‘774 patent had been obtained by the plaintiffs by suppression of material information stating that the patentee knowingly suppressed the fact that the claimed product is in the form of polymorph.
Cipla further filed an application to dismiss injunction suit before the single judge [this move put the final nail in the coffin]. Cipla argued that plaintiffs filed two separate applications for grant of patent in respect of the same chemical compound for polymorphic Form B. Further arguing the ‘774 patent is mixture of polymorphs A and B which was known to plaintiffs but never stated in the application made before the Patent Controller. Cipla also provided x-ray diffraction data of Tarceva before the single judge to show Tarceva tablets are polymorphic Form B, not mixture of A and B polymorph and based on x-ray data argued that Tarceva sold by Roche in India is covered by pending patent applications and not by granted ‘774 patent. [what a statement made against compound per se patent? Does this mean if an active ingredient of a drug is sold in a polymorphic form then active ingredient is not covered by compound per se patent?] Cipla further argued that case made by plaintiff is completely false and incorrect and also suppressed the fact that it has made two further patent applications for the same compound in polymorphic Form B.
During proceedings, the divisional bench particularly referred to polymorphic Form B story raised by Cipla and was of opinion that the ‘774 patent is for erlotinib hydrochloride polymorph A&B mixture and Tarceva is polymorphic Form B for which the plaintiffs did not yet hold a patent and therefore no prima facie case was made out by the plaintiffs as they were seeking an injunction against Cipla in respect of a drug for which they did not yet hold a patent. [Now this sounds something out of the world analysis that compound per se patent is circumvented by polymorph patent] The divisional bench also was of opinion that the story framed by Cipla had been suppressed by the plaintiffs both before the Controller of Patents as well as in the suit and on this sole ground injunction ought to have been refused. [Now what to expect further when the divisional bench already got preconceived by Cipla’s arguments, better Roche to forget thinking about fair judgment]
The divisional bench further was of opinion that the plaintiff were trying to mislead both the Court as well as Controller of Patents to the effect that polymorph B was subsumed in Polymorphs A and B after the divisional bench found patentee (plaintiff) argument made before the Controller of Patents that the closest prior art i.e. US ‘498 did not teach a compound of polymorph B free of polymorph A contradictory to later statement dated 18th August 2008 by plaintiff that the earlier compound (disclosed in the ‘498 patent) included all known and unknown polymorphs. [A statement technically and patently correct and widely known to any patent practitioner in pharmaceutical area] But the divisional court opined that if Tarceva correspond to polymorphs A and B then there was no need for the plaintiffs to have applied for a separate patent in respect of polymorph B. [Obviously the divisional bench seems not able to understand basic ABC of pharma patenting]. The divisional bench also pointed that polymorphic Form B of Erlotinib hydrochloride was not known to the plaintiffs at the time they applied for a patent for Erlotinib hydrochloride as a combination of polymorphs A and B and therefore polymorphic Form B could not be said to be subsumed in the compound of combination of polymorphs A and B.
The divisional bench further discusses more issues pertaining to polymorphic Form B, polymorphs A and B mixture which was unfortunately crude, irrational and technically absurd and bizarre to read and understand. We do not even know how to pen down into words, observations made by the divisional bench is not only laughable but also annoying to read. Interestingly the divisional bench was of opinion that an applicant for a patent of a pharmaceutical product be bound to disclose the details of all other applications made by the applicant for grant of patent of derivatives or forms of such product. Also, there are some statements made by the division bench which we have no clue such as this one – “the Controller of Patents has confused the tests of inventiveness with obviousness (page 42).” Interestingly, the divisional bench also was of opinion that the Controller finding about obviousness of Erlotinib hydrochloride during pre-grant opposition is not obviousness but was about anticipation. [Does the divisional bench really understand what anticipation means in patent law?] We would request our readers to please go through the text of judgment, line by line to feel depth of absurdity.
While considering arguments framed by Cipla and observations made by the divisional bench, the Court concluded that Cipla has been able to demonstrate prima facie case that Roche do not hold a patent yet for the drug Tarceva, which is the polymorphic Form B of the substance for which they hold a patent. [Landmark ruling that active ingredient sold in polymorphic form is not covered by drug compound patent!!!] The court also concluded that Roche failure to bring the fact about filing of patent application for polymorphic Form B to the notice of the Controller of Patents was not consistent with the requirement of a full disclosure. Finally the divisional bench fined Roche to pay Rs. 5 lakhs to Cipla. [God knows why?] Is Roche penalized because the story framed by Cipla was suppressed by them?