In a unanimous decision issued on June 12, 2017, the Supreme Court for the first time interpreted key provisions of the 2010 Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”). See Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc., No. 15-1195 (U.S. June 12, 2017). The Court’s decision grants more flexibility to biosimilar companies and filers of abbreviated Biologics License Applications (“aBLAs”), holding that (1) a reference product sponsor is not entitled to injunctive relief under federal law for an applicant’s refusal to provide a copy of its aBLA and manufacturing information during the information exchange period contemplated by the BPCIA, and (2) an applicant may provide statutory 180-day pre-launch notice of commercial marketing before its proposed biosimilar product is licensed by FDA. An overview of the parties’ oral arguments before the Court on these issues can be found here.
On May 10, 2017, Amgen filed a complaint in the District of Delaware asserting that, under section 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(2)(C)(i) of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”), Coherus infringed Amgen’s U.S. Patent No. 8,273,707 (the “’707 patent”) by filing an abbreviated Biologic License Application (“aBLA”) for a biosimilar version of Amgen’s Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) product. Amgen asserted that the biosimilar manufacturing process disclosed in the Coherus aBLA will infringe the ’707 patent’s claimed protein purification process.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in the much-anticipated Amgen v. Sandoz case, representing the first time the Court has had to grapple with the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”) since this key law went into effect in 2010. The BPCIA created a new, abbreviated pathway for highly similar biological products to enter the U.S. market by following in the footsteps of a reference biological product. The Court’s decision, which should issue in June, will be closely watched by participants in the pharmaceutical, biotech, and health care sectors.
To read our full alert on the oral argument, please click here.
On September 9, 2016, Apotex Inc. filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the Federal Circuit’s decision in Amgen Inc. v. Apotex Inc., Case No. 2016-1308. This case involves Apotex’s proposed filgrastim product, which is a biosimilar version of Amgen’s Neulasta®. At issue is whether the 180-day “Notice of Commercial Marketing” period provided by 42 U.S.C. § 262(l)(8)(A) of the BPCIA is always mandatory, and whether the Federal Circuit’s decision improperly extended the 12-year exclusivity period for reference product sponsors from 12 to 12 ½ years by holding that a biosimilar applicant cannot give effective Notice of Commercial Marketing for its biosimilar product until after it receives FDA license approval.
As previously discussed on this blog, the Federal Circuit held in Amgen Inc. v. Apotex Inc. that even though Apotex participated in the “information exchange” (a.k.a. the “patent dance”) envisioned by § 262(l) of the BPCIA, the statute’s “requirement of 180 days’ post-licensure notice before commercial marketing … is a mandatory one enforceable by injunction.”
In a decision released on March 25, 2015, FDA denied a Citizen’s Petition that would have effectively made the information and patent exchange described in § 262 of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”) a precondition for approval. The Petition, which had been filed by Amgen, requested that FDA require biosimilar applicants to certify to FDA that they had provided the reference product sponsor a copy of their biosimilar application as well as “information that describes the process(es) used to manufacture the biosimilar product that is the subject of that application.” FDA Response at 1. FDA denied the Petition, finding that the language of the BPCIA did not require FDA to act and explaining that that FDA would not exercise its discretion to force biosimilar applicants to comply with a provision the interpretation of which is currently the subject of ongoing litigation.
In an order released on March 19, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California denied Amgen’s motion for judgment on the pleadings as well as its request for a preliminary injunction to prevent Sandoz from marketing its drug Zarxio®. Amgen v. Sandoz, No. 14-cv-04741-RS (N.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2015). The ruling was consistent with the judge’s earlier statements regarding Amgen’s motions during a hearing held on March 13, 2015.
On March 6, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval for Zarxio®, making the pharmaceutical company Sandoz the first company to win approval of a “biosimilar” product. Zarxio® is biosimilar to Amgen’s Neupogen® (filgrastim), which was originally approved for use in 1991 to stimulate the proliferation and differentiation of white blood cells. On July 24, 2014, Sandoz announced that the FDA had accepted its Biologics License Application (BLA) for filgrastim, an application which was filed under the new biosimilar pathway created in the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA).