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Pfizer defeated in Britain's highest court over Lyrica patent

Published on 15/11/18 at 11:10am

American pharma firm Pfizer have lost in the final round of a protracted court battle over the patent on epilepsy drug Lyrica, after Britain’s highest court ruled against the company, in a case surrounding the $5 billion a year drug.

While Pfizer had sought a secondary patent on multibillion dollar drug Lyrica as a treatment for neuropathic pain, Britain’s highest court has ruled that the secondary patent was invalid. The decision thus opens the way for generic drugmakers, such as Mylan and Allergan, to create copies of Pfizer’s drug.

Although originally developed as a treatment for epilepsy, the market for Lyrica as a treatment for neuropathic pain soon took a leading role.

The court’s decision now leaves the New York-based pharma giant open to financial claims from the NHS, who may try to recover costs associated with overpayments on Pfizer’s more expensive, branded drug.

“This is an enormous blow to Pfizer. They face claims running potentially into hundreds of millions of pounds if the NHS seeks to recover the excess costs,” said Darren Smyth, partner at law firm EIP.

A spokesperson for NHS England added that: “Clinical commissioning groups and the NHS nationally have been tracking this legal case and will be deciding on the right next steps on behalf of patients and taxpayers.”

Pfizer commented: "The period that a medicine is under patent is a critical phase in its lifecycle that fuels innovation — as science evolves and knowledge grows, patients increasingly benefit from ongoing research into new uses for existing medicines. As situations such as these are expected to become more common, it’s important for patients that pharmaceutical companies are able to protect patents, including second medical use patents.”

Louis Goss

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