Tug-Of-War Over Revlimid Patent Continues Between Celgene, Natco Pharma Limited

Published: Oct 24, 2014

Tug-Of-War Over Revlimid Patent Continues Between Celgene, Natco

October 24, 2014

By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Sr. Editor

The legal tug-of-war between biotech giant Celgene and Natco Pharma Limited, the generic drugmaker challenging certain Revlimid patents, may have seen some gains during Friday’s hearing but now key invalidity issues have been decided yet, said Geoffrey Porges, a biotech analyst at Sanford Bernstein.

Celgene and Natco have been locked in a grudge match over anemia drug Revlimid for the better part of two years. Most of the case was decided in May during a so-called Markman hearing, used by jurists to decide specific points of a patent, in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey.

That particular decision may have gone mostly Celgene’s way, but today’s is far more ambiguous, said Porges.

“As in the May Markman hearing, the preponderance of the Court's decisions fell Celgene's way,” wrote Porges in a research note. ”They do not, however, make an early settlement any more likely, as the most critical issue (Natco's petition to amend invalidity claims) has yet to be decided.”

Titled “3 Out of 4 Ain't Bad, but No Firm Decision Yet on Key Invalidity Issue, More Delays,” the note underscored that the fight over Revlimid still has plenty of mileage left.

“Our advisors believe the Court may be slightly more likely to rule in favor of Natco on this, leaving open the possibility of a trial, but we will watch closely as a ruling in favor of Celgene could meaningfully increase pressure on Natco to settle,” said Porges.

In the past, however, other analysts have found settling a difficult scenario to imagine, primarily because meetings with Celgene’s management have shown executives to be resolute in their case and its merits.

“While Celgene’s management does care about the stock price, we believe that they are more concerned about protecting Revlimid and maximizing the value of the franchise over the long-term,” Citigroup’s Yaron Werber wrote in a note at the time. “Hence, they may be willing to sacrifice the stock over the near-term especially given that they have a strong hand in the patent case. In our view, Celgene will only settle if they can get a 2024/25 protection.”

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