Monday, January 7, 2013

ALIMTA's Patent: A stronger foothold?

Pharmaceutical patents have always been in the limelight worldwide. While the drug manufacturers face a stiff competition from the ever-expanding generics market, acquiring timely patents on new drugs ensure firm market foothold and pose potential barriers to entry. The much talked about Eli Lilly’s lung cancer drug patent on ALIMTA set to expire in 2016 , raising questions on the overall market sales and stringent competition from the generics drug market thereafter. But thanks to ALIMTA’S “method of use patent” (popularly known as '209 patent) aimed at the method of administering antifolate to mammals. 

 Even though the basic patent on the lung cancer drug ALIMTA is about to expire in the year 2016, Eli Lilly’s latter patent ('209) which is set to expire by the end of 2021 could potentially keep ALIMTA’s generics on hold. Reason being the very fact that '209 patent covers the specific method of administering the lung cancer drug ALIMTA and its dosage procedure which apparently happens to be mentioned on the drug’s label as well. Eli’s attempt to safeguard its popular drug by "method of use" based supporting patent ‘209 could prove to be a smarter move when annual sales of ALIMTA are expected  to rise to $3.5 billion by 2016. 

On the other hand defendants and generic drug manufacturers tend to legally argue the validity of the ‘209 patent. Details can be accesses here. Recently many Pharmaceutical giants faced massive competition from the generic drug industry upon patent expiry thereby leading to slashed sales and overall revenues. Eli’s efforts to protect its basic drug patent with supporting “method of use" based patents could potentially hit the bull’s eye and possibly initiate a trend of such supporting patents. 

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