UK Appeals Court Sides With Eli Lilly in Alimta Patent Case
The Court of Appeal in London has upheld Eli Lilly’s vitamin regimen patent for its blockbuster cancer drug Alimta, blocking Actavis from marketing a generic version of the drug until 2021.
Lilly’s compound patent for Alimta (pemetrexed disodium) expires in December in Europe, but a separate patent covering vitamins that prevent side effects in patients receiving the drug doesn’t expire until 2021, Lilly spokeswoman Lauren Zierke says.
Actavis planned to market a generic of Alimta, once the compound patent expires, using alternative salt forms — diacid, dipotassium or ditromethamine — combined with vitamin B12 and folic acid, the same vitamins in Lilly’s drug.
The Court of Appeal ruled that Actavis’ planned marketing of the alternative salt form would constitute indirect patent infringement. The ruling in Actavis v. Eli Lilly and Company, which reverses a 2014 decision by the UK High Court, applies in France, Italy and Spain as well.
Actavis could not be reached for comment on whether it will appeal the decision to the UK Supreme Court. The drugmaker could also ask the High Court to decide whether an alternative product would infringe Lilly’s patent.
In March, Germany’s Court of Appeal ruled that the Alimta vitamin regimen patent would not be infringed by Actavis’ marketing of one of the alternative salt forms, pemetrexed dipotassium, after the compound patent expires in December. Lilly has asked for permission to appeal that ruling. — Jonathon Shacat