Merck Gets Win Over Gilead in Hepatit...
Home  »  Community News  »  Merck Gets Win Over ...
Mar
23
ragupathyrenganathan
Merck Gets Win Over Gilead in Hepatitis C Drug Patent Dispute
Pharma News
0

Merck & Co. won a legal victory over rival Gilead Sciences Inc. on Tuesday when a California jury upheld the validity of two patents that Merck says should entitle it to a portion of the multibillion-dollar sales of Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs.

The financial repercussions of the decision weren’t immediately clear. The jury must still consider what damages to award to Merck and its co-owner of the patents, Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc., Merck said in an emailed statement.

Merck said it “believes the jury’s verdict accurately reflects the evidence in this case.”

Gilead said in an emailed statement it was disappointed in the jury’s verdict, and that there are a number of remaining issues to be decided by the jury and the judge.

The verdict followed a trial that began earlier this month in federal court in San Jose, in which Gilead argued that it shouldn’t have to share any of the sales of its hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni with Merck. Last year, combined U.S. sales of the two drugs were $12.5 billion, out of a global haul of $19.1 billion.

Merck staked a claim because it believes sofosbuvir, the active ingredient shared by Gilead’s drugs, infringes two Merck patents that cover related compounds, and it wants royalties from Gilead. In the trial, which arose from Gilead’s 2013 lawsuit against Merck, Gilead was seeking a judgment that the Merck patents are invalid and that it owes Merck nothing. Merck recently began selling its own hepatitis C drug, Zepatier.

The case is one of several legal battles that have erupted over a new wave of effective but expensive hepatitis C drugs, as companies try to assert the patent rights they will need to grab a piece of the pie.

Merck said in a court document last month that it filed applications in 2002 for patents covering the use of certain compounds to fight hepatitis C infection. In 2013, Merck proposed to license its patents to Gilead in exchange for a royalty of 10% of U.S. sales of products containing sofosbuvir, according to Gilead’s lawsuit against Merck. Gilead countered in a court document that a 10% royalty is a “prohibitive demand.”

Gilead said in a court document last month that the original applications for the Merck patents weren’t specific enough to cover Gilead’s drugs. Gilead also said certain claims in the Merck patents weren’t added until several years after the original applications, following patent applications and research publications by scientists from Pharmasset, the company that developed sofosbuvir and was acquired by Gilead for more than $11 billion.

Write to Peter Loftus at peter.loftus@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 22, 2016 18:45 ET (22:45 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

 



Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.