A U.S. appeals court upheld a ruling that invalidated a crucial Johnson and Johnson patent on its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade, limiting J&J’s ability to seek damages from Pfizer Inc over its launch of a lower-cost version of the drug.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a ruling by a U.S. administrative court that a J&J patent covering the active ingredient in Remicade was invalid because its concepts were covered in a prior J&J patent.
Remicade generated U.S. sales of $4.8 billion for J&J in 2016 but it faces increased competition from cheaper “biosimilar” copycats, including Pfizer’s version, which is sold in the United States under the name Inflectra.
J&J said at the time that it considered Pfizer’s manoeuvre to be an “at risk” launch, meaning that Pfizer would be liable for money damages to J&J if an appeals court reversed the rulings and upheld the patent.
J&J did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday’s ruling.
Pfizer praised the ruling but said in a statement that J&J ”continues to use their scheme of exclusionary contracts to maintain Remicade’s monopoly position that prevents patients, payers, and providers from the opportunity to benefit from Inflectra.”
Pfizer sued J&J in September, saying its rival violated U.S. antitrust laws offering insurers discounts on Remicade in exchange for essentially excluding Inflectra from insurance coverage.
J&J has said the lawsuit is without merit and that the company is competing on value and price.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Frances Kerry)