This particular guest Kat was chuckling just yesterday over these elegantly understated words written by Sir Hugh Laddie while a Judge in the Patents Court, and quoted in the House of Lords decision in Conor v Angiotech:
"A company which has spent millions of dollars on research and has produced a valuable new drug will be understandably irritated when, say, a court declares the patent invalid for obviousness, thereby opening up the market to competitors."Applying this dictum mutandis mutatis to drug formulations, the latest patentee to be “understandably irritated” is Astrazeneca. The ever-faithful BAILII has delivered into the paws of the IPKat Mr Justice Arnold’s decision of 22 March revoking for obviousness Astrazeneca’s patent on a sustained release formulation of the anti-psychotic drug quetiapine (marketed by Astrazeneca under the trade mark Seroquel).
The facts and the outcome have echoes of Actavis v Novartis (and indeed one of the expert witnesses was the same). In that case, it was a patent concerning a sustained release formulation of fluvastatin that was held to be obvious. However, Merpel reminds us that in the fluvastatin case the sustained release was claimed in rather broad terms:
A sustained release pharmaceutical composition comprising a water soluble salt of fluvastatin as active ingredient and being selected from the group consisting of matrix formulations, diffusion-controlled membrane coated formulations and combinations thereof, wherein the sustained release formulation releases the active ingredient over more than 3 hours.
A sustained release formulation comprising a gelling agent and [quetiapine] or a pharmaceutically acceptable salt thereof, together with one or more pharmaceutically acceptable excipients.
|Lions in the path?|
|Or paper tiger?|
The IPKat wonders whether this very subjective determination is likely to become sufficiently predicatable that different courts in different countries with different procedures will come to similar conclusions. Or will a Dutch lion always morph into a British tiger? Merpel wonders whether national divisions of a unitary court will be any more homogeneous in their results.