Amgen has appealed the district court decision denying its motion for a preliminary injunction to keep Sandoz’ biosimilar version of Neupogen® off the market. (I wrote about the court’s decision in this article.) The appeal is on an expedited briefing schedule at the Federal Circuit, and three amicus briefs have been filed. All of the amicus briefs argue for reversal of at least some of the district court’s decision regarding the biosimilar patent litigation framework of the BPCIA.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization
The Biotechnology Industry Organization filed an amicus brief arguing that the BPCIA should be interpreted as requiring “notice to the reference product sponsor of the initial submission of the biosimilar application” and “notice of potential commercial marketing upon approval.” BIO argues that these procedures must be mandatory in order for the patent dispute resolution provisions of the law to achieve their purpose of “provid[ing] a significant and real opportunity to resolve patent issues prior to the launch of the biosimilar.”
AbbVie Inc. filed an amicus brief arguing that “the notice-and-exchange provisions are mandatory” and that a biosimilar applicant’s “failure to comply with the statute is unlawful.” According to AbbVie, if the district court decision is upheld “the entire biosimilar litigation process would become a free-for-all, where biosimilar companies would utilize the data and work of innovator companies but refuse to provide basic information about their products … leaving innovators to blindly guess as to which patents they should sue on and when.”
AbbVie also argues that the BPCIA does not preempt Amgen’s state law claims of unfair competition.
Janssen Biotech, Inc.
Janssen Biotech, Inc. filed an amicus brief asking the Federal Circuit to “clarify that the statutory patent dispute resolution procedures are intended to be followed as written, and are not merely optional choices or empty formalities.” Janssen criticizes the district court decision for “transforming [the BPCIA’s patent provisions] from a carefully orchestrated dispute resolution process into a series of strategic options existing for the sole benefit of the biosimilar applicant.”
Janssen also urges the Federal Circuit to decide that the notice of commercial marketing required by the BPCIA may not be provided before a biosimilar product is licensed by the FDA. (As Janssen notes in its brief, this issue arose in its pending litigation regarding a biosimilar version of Remicade® being developed as Celltrion Health Care, Co., which I discuss in this article.) One argument Janssen makes on this point is that the notice of commercial marketing gives the reference product sponsor the right to seek a preliminary injunction based on alleged patent infringement, but a preliminary injunction cannot be granted unless commercial launch is imminent, and commercial launch is not possible until the biosimilar has been licensed by the FDA.
The Expedited Appeal Schedule
Amgen filed its opening brief on April 3. Sandoz filed its brief on April 21. Oral arguments are scheduled for June 3.