Federal Circuit throws out Oxycontin patents
Washington DC | 03 February 2016

The US Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s decision to invalidate patents covering improvements to the pain relief drug Oxycontin (oxycodone).

The appeals court upheld a district court’s ruling that invalidated Purdue Pharmaceutical’s patents covering Oxycontin because they didn’t add significant changes to the drug.

Purdue filed a patent infringement complaint in March 2011 after Teva filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to produce a generic version of Oxycontin.

Purdue filed similar cases against Amneal Pharmaceutcials, Epic Pharma and Mylan in 2012.

Judge Sidney Stein at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York invalidated three of Purdue’s patents the following year. The patents covered an improved formula for oxycodone.

The court also dismissed the three remaining cases Purdue had filed against the generic drug manufacturers.

Purdue appealed against the decision, but on 1 February, judges at the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court ruling, holding: “Purdue alleges clear error in a number of the court’s findings, but none of its arguments are meritorious.”

As part of its argument, Purude proposed the 1923 Eibel Process Co v Minnesota & Ontario Paper Co case, in which an inventor discovered a non-obvious source of a problem and then applied a remedy in response.

But the Federal Circuit held that Purdue’s reliance on Eibel was “misplaced”, holding that in the present dispute “a problem need to not be solved to arrive at the claimed invention”.

Philip Strassburger, general counsel at Purdue, commented: “We are reviewing the decision and considering our options concerning further appellate review.”

Author: Tammy Facey



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