Monday, June 24, 2013

Prontonix Decision May Indicate Trend of Protecting Pharma

A NJ court has moved to protect the pharmaceutical industry in a way that surprised some industry experts.  Teva  Industries Ltd and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd would pay $2.15 billion to settle a patent suit related to its acid-reflux drug.  According to Kalorama, this is an unusual court case that represents a protective view of pharma in a economically shrinking environment. 
"There may be a trend to improve protection for brand pharma as the interest in development has slowed in the area," said Kalorama pharmaceutical analyst Melissa Elder.

The Prontonix suit is the first instance of generic drugmakers paying damages for marketing a copy of an existing drug for which patents have yet to expire.   The tactic has been called 'at-risk' launch.  The Pfizer drug, Protonix, recorded peak annual revenue of almost $2 billion in 2007, before sales plunged following the launch of generic versions by Teva in 2007 and Sun Pharma in 2008.

 The patent covering the active ingredient in Protonix -- pantoprazole -- expired in January 2011.
was unique among these types of lawsuits as it involved a "composition of matter patent" - one of the stronger patent protections.

TEVA's Revenues were 18 billion in 2011 according to Kalorama Information's Knowledge Center.