The presidential administration may have changed, but the legislative branch remains focused on issues relating to patient access to drugs. One of these efforts includes P.L. 117-8, the Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act of 2021. Formerly S.164, it was introduced in the Senate in February 2021 and sped through the House to enactment on April 23, less than three months later.
Reference product sponsors often obtain patents claiming methods of using a known drug to treat a condition or disease. Because generic and biosimilar developers typically do not treat patients, and thus do not directly infringe the claims, plaintiffs must sue under a theory of induced infringement—i.e., that the generic or biosimilar developer recommended, encouraged, or promoted a patented use for the drug. Demonstrating induced infringement most often involves the label of the defendant’s product, but increasingly may involve non-label evidence such as the defendant’s press releases, brochures, product catalogs, advertisements, and statements to the FDA, doctors, and investors. This non-label evidence is likely to be especially significant in the biologic context.
The Ensuring Innovation Act recently became law after passing in the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support. According to one Senator, the intent of the legislation was to “close loopholes to prevent awarding market exclusivity to products that do not present true innovation and unduly delay cheaper generic from entering the market.” Is this much ado about nothing, or much to be concerned about?
When a pharmaceutical company withdraws a product from the market, the basis for the withdrawal can affect whether a competitor can commercialize a generic version of that product. A generic cannot be approved if, in the FDA’s view, the product was withdrawn for “safety and effectiveness” reasons.
But how does the FDA reach that conclusion? A newly filed case may shed some light on the Agency’s decision-making process.
In the recent case of Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi, Aventisub LLC, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s invalidation of certain of Amgen’s antibody patent claims, concluding that the claims were not “enable[d]” under 35 U.S.C. § 112. This decision establishes that it is more difficult to satisfy the enablement requirement for antibody claims that use functional language to describe the antibody. (The court granted Amgen’s motion to extend the deadline for filing a petition for panel rehearing and/or rehearing en banc until April 14, 2021. See id., Order (March 8, 2021).)