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Abbott wins $1.7bn Humira case

Published on 24/02/11 at 11:31am
Abbott's Humira (adalimumab)

Abbott has been saved from paying Johnson & Johnson $1.7 billion after a US appeals court quashed a patent dispute verdict over its arthritis drug Humira.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concluded the two companies embarked on “very different strategies” with their anti tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) drugs.

J&J subsidiary Centocor and the New York University had successfully sued the company in 2009 for infringement of their ‘775 patent, which relates to Centocor’s anti-TNF rheumatoid arthritis treatments – chief among which are Remicade (infliximab) and Simponi (golimumab).

But the appeal court decided J&J subsidiary Centocor had developed a chimeric antibody, whereas Abbott pursued an alternative path with Humira (adalimumab) and sought to engineer a fully human antibody.

Consequently Abbott will now not be liable to pay either $504 million in royalties or a further $1.2 billion in compensation.

Rob Bazemore, president of Centocor, said he was “disappointed” by the decision.

“We are considering whether to ask for reconsideration by the panel or by the court of appeals as a whole,” he added.

Humira is Abbott’s biggest selling drug, making the US pharma firm $6.55 billion in sales last year, roughly a fifth of its total pharma revenue, while Remicade is J&J’s biggest selling pharmaceutical product, bringing in $2.7 billion in sales last year.

Meanwhile, there is no immediate end in sight to J&J’s tussle with Merck over the latter’s rights to continue marketing Remicade and Simponi following its 2009 acquisition of Schering-Plough, and the companies are currently locked in an arbitration process.

Ben Adams

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