AbbVie Settles Botox Rival IP Lawsuit with Evolus

AbbVie_Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

AbbVie and its partner company, Medytox of South Korea, have settled a years-long intellectual property legal dispute with California’s Evolus over Jeuveau, a potential rival to AbbVie’s blockbuster Botox, which it gained through the acquisition of Allergan.

This morning, the three companies announced settlement agreements that will “fully resolve” all outstanding litigation, including the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) case regarding the sale of Jeuveau in the United States. Additionally, a California court case filed by Medytox against Evolus will be dismissed, the companies said in a brief announcement.

The settlement will certainly be financially beneficial to AbbVie. Under the terms of the settlement agreements, AbbVie and Medytox will release all claims against Evolus related to the alleged misappropriation of Medytox's trade secrets, the companies said.

Additionally, in return for milestone and royalty payments, the AbbVie and Medytox will grant a license to Evolus to continue to commercialize Jeuveau in the United States and Nuceiva, the branded name for Jeuveau outside the U.S., in all other territories in which Evolus has licensing rights. In addition, Evolus will issue common stock to Medytox as part of the settlement agreement. Shares of Evolus were up 77% this morning, trading at $12.74 as of 11:30 a.m.

The case has been ongoing for several years. Allergan, now a business unit of Illinois-based AbbVie, and its partner Medytox claimed that Jeuveau was developed with trade secrets stolen from the South Korean company. Jeuveau is a proprietary 900 kDa purified botulinum toxin type A formulation developed by Evolus and its partner Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co., also of South Korea. In 2019, Evolus received the greenlight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its lead product, Jeuveau, a treatment for the temporary improvement in the appearance of moderate to severe glabellar lines associated with corrugator and/or procerus muscle activity in adults. The drug was seen as a significant challenger to the blockbuster botulism-based drug, Botox.

The lawsuit against Evolus was filed days before the FDA approved the drug. Evolus and Daewoong denied the claims.

As Crain’s Chicago Business reported, the intellectual theft claims made by Allergan and Medytox involved a new process that turns the botulism-based formula into an aesthetics medicine. Medytox argued that Daewoong copied the strain and development process used in the newer treatments, Crain’s reported. The case went before the U.S. International Trade Court in December, despite Evolus’ and Daewoong’s arguments that the U.S.-based court didn’t have jurisdiction over IP arguments that occurred in Korea. Ultimately the case was heard and the U.S. ITC ruled that Jeuveau was developed using trade secrets stolen by a former Medytox employee.

That ruling resulted in a ban of 21 months on the sale of Jeuveau in the United States, which would have been devastating to Evolus, as it’s the company’s only approved product. However, with the new agreement in place, Jeuveau can once again be sold in the U.S.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. is not a party to the settlement agreement announced and does not affect any ongoing litigation between Medytox and Daewoong in Korea and other countries.

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