Economy

Federal judge invalidates Restasis patents in blow to Allergan

Federal judge invalidates Restasis patents in blow to Allergan”

Allergan (AGN), a pharmaceutical company, is under scrutiny by USA lawmakers for a tribal licensing deal for its dry eye treatment Restasis.

The patents at issue were the same ones Allergan transferred to a Native American tribe in an effort to protect them from administrative review.

Sales of Restasis totaled almost $1.5 billion previous year, second only to Allergan's Botox franchise. Since generic versions haven't been approved yet, the bank estimates the earliest that Restasis may face competition in the market is in 2019. Congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have piled on the company, with some calling for an investigation into the agreement and others demanding more details on the agreement. Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill drafted a bill in response to the move and a U.S. House of Representatives committee is investigating the deal.

Bryson said a group of patents Allergan obtained on Restasis, which are set to expire in 2024, should not have been granted because they describe methods of treatment that were obvious in light of earlier patents granted to the company.

Allergan's stock price dropped about 5 percent on the news.

Mylan NV and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. are among the companies working on generic versions of Restasis, but they have yet to win federal approval.

Allergan's deal with the Mohawk Tribe, which transferred ownership of the patents to the Tribe, was aimed at defeating a different kind of patent challenge called inter partes review from which Indian tribes have sovereign immunity against. Allergan said its aim was to avoid the "double jeopardy" of defending Restasis patents in both federal court and the USA patent office. Allergan has said it plans to appeal the decision.

"The Court has serious concerns about the legitimacy of the tactic that Allergan and the Tribe have employed", Judge William Bryson wrote in his decision.



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