While the U.S. Congress struggles to patch together statutory restraints on prescription drug prices, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), with the FDA’s help, is taking steps to cut back the patent thickets some drug companies are using to ward off the competition that would bring those prices down.
A U.S. federal jury breathed new life into so-called pay-for-delay settlements when it found that a 2010 agreement between Endo International plc and Impax Laboratories LLC was procompetitive as it allowed Impax to launch its generic version of Opana ER, an opioid pain drug, before key patents expired.
The U.S. FDA’s guidance to COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, announced June 30, that they should develop modified bivalent boosters that include an omicron BA.4/5 spike protein component marks the beginning of a new era in the pandemic in which manufacturers are no longer driving the development of the vaccines.
Given that Novavax Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine will be a latecomer to the U.S. scene if it gets FDA authorization, it’s been cast in a supporting role to the lead being played by the mRNA vaccines from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc.-Biontech SE. But the data presented at the June 28 Vaccines and Related Biologic Products Advisory Committee meeting suggest the Novavax adjuvanted protein vaccine may have the chops to take on a larger role in taming the pandemic.
Armed with data but no crystal ball, the U.S. FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biologic Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will be asked June 28 to predict the next-generation vaccines that will be needed to best respond to the COVID-19 futurescape. While Moderna Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Novavax Inc. will briefly present clinical data for their variant vaccines at the VRBPAC meeting, the discussion will be about the future of all COVID-19 vaccines being developed or authorized for the U.S. market.
It’s been a decade since the America Invents Act (AIA) transformed the U.S. patent landscape from a first-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file system and added new contours with the creation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to hear post-grant patent challenges outside of court. While the AIA’s inter partes review process and other post-grant procedures have helped weed out weak patents, they’ve also increased the uncertainty and unpredictability of many patents. Now, 10 years on, Congress is assessing how the PTAB has developed in real life and considering what course corrections may be needed.
Novartis AG is not going quietly into the night after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed itself, invalidating a method patent covering a dosing regimen for the company’s blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug, Gilenya (fingolimod). After the split opinion came down June 21 from the three-judge panel, Novartis said it planned to file a petition seeking further review of the decision by the full court.
While the World Trade Organization (WTO) is taking a victory lap for getting a five-year intellectual property (IP) waiver across the finish line for COVID-19 vaccines, the accomplishment is being panned by spectators on both sides of the track.