As related in posts here, here and here, J&J and Merck are currently in arbitration over the status of Remicade. J&J is trying to revoke Merck's rights under existing agreements after the latter's acquisition of Schering-Plough. This is ongoing and now results of the arbitration are not expected until the first Qtr next year.
This week, as reported in Bloomberg, Abbott decided to appeal a $1.67 B patent-infringement award, the largest in US history, resulting from a dispute over its own Humira and J&J's Remicade. Abbott is accused of using J&J's humanized antibody technology to create Humira without a license.
Abbott's position is that they created the first humanized antibody versus TNF (the target for both drugs) and the J&J (Centocor) can't assert a claim for something that did not exist when it filed its 1994 claims. This argument was essentially rejected in the first trial -- but if at first you don't succeed....
This is no trivial matter. Humira racked up $4.67 B in sales for the first 9 months of 2010 - $2 B of which is in the USA. Further, when Lipitor falls off the patent cliff soon, Humira is expected to become the largest selling drug in the world. Analysts have projected peak Humira sales to reach as much as $10.1 B annually.
Related to the case at hand, Abbott has also filed suit against J&J (Centocor)'s Remicade replacement product, Simponi and its anti-psoriasis agent, Stelera, arguing these drugs infringe on Abbott patents. When the dust settles, and the sabre rattling dies down, one would expect all of these issues to be concluded with licensing deals so everyone can get back to the business of treating patients and making money - instead of spending money in court.
Posted by Bruce Lehr November 3rd