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Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Tag Archives: generics

Expansion and Diversification Strategies in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Part 12 of Valuation and Other Biotech Mysteries

[Ed. This is the twelfth part in Wayne’s series. You can access the whole thing by clicking here. Please leave comments or questions on the blog and Wayne will address them in future posts in this series.]

Brand, human prescription drugs is the core business of the pharmaceutical industry. Risk can be diversified and potential reward can be increased by having drugs in multiple therapeutic areas. Expansion and diversification could also involve other types of drug products and healthcare activities. The best current example of healthcare diversification is Johnson & Johnson. If you look at the longer term stock chart (NYSE:JNJ), you will see that the share price continued to climb from 1999 to 2005 and has since been in a volatile trading range.

This post will look at expansion and diversification into generics, vaccines, consumer products, diagnostics, medical devices, animal health and pharmacy benefits management. Read more of this post

Patent Cliff Will Not Save Biotech: Abbott Buys Indian Generics Company Piramal Healthcare

I often hear how the upcoming loss of patent protection for current blockbusters creates an insatiable demand at pharma companies for new pipeline products from biotechs. Here’s an example from 2007. Here’s one from last week. This is not true. Upcoming loss of patent protection creates a insatiable demand for revenue, but new products are not the only source of new revenue.

Abbott’s $3.7 billion deal for a unit of India’s Piramal Healthcare last week is a perfect case in point. This deal, which follows Abbott’s license of a slew of products from Zydus Cadila, will feed the company’s new “established products division.” Abbott’s purchase of Solvay in February also built its emerging markets revenue, which now accounts for over 20% of the company’s business.

Abbott is far from alone: Sanofi is the biggest generics manufacturer in Latin America, Pfizer also has an established products division, Novartis is diversifying into eyecare and has long sold generics, Merck is into follow-on biologics and GSK tapped South Africa’s Aspen Pharma for emerging markets growth through branded generics. These alternatives look even better as payors worldwide are setting more demanding standards for reimbursement, the placebo effect is mysteriously strong, and personalized medicine makes clinical trials even more expensive.

My bottom line? Emerging markets and generics opportunities create plenty of growth, thank you very much, with a far lower risk profile than most product in-licenses or biotech acquisitions (even the option deals). As big pharma gets more comfortable with “established products” and biosimilars, biotechs are going to have to demonstrate even higher value. Plenty of companies are being built and funded with that in mind; but anyone counting on pharma’s desperation will be disappointed.

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Biotech Trends Update — IP Constituencies: Innovators and Generics Continue to Blur Pharma Lines

Two stories noted by the WSJ’s Health Blog highlight the trend we’ve been following of blurring lines between branded/innovator pharma and generics companies:

The biggest development I’d cite is Pfizer’s deal to sell 40 generics made by India’s Strides Arcolab and South Africa’s Aspen.  This deal seems to go a step farther than other innovator/branded deals with generics in that it treads on U.S. soil.  The Pfizer Established Products Business Unit has in-licensed more than 200 products and has an overall portfolio of approximately 600.

“Generics” companies are not sticking to their traditional role either.  Noting Teva’s projected growth and market cap, Jacob Goldstein says that “[i]t’s no longer correct to think of generics manufacturers as scrappy little competitors nipping at the heels of big pharma,” especially where 30% of their revenue comes from branded drugs. 

Add those to increasing innovation in India and China and in collaborations with companies there, and the whole global industry is starting to look a bit more homogeneous.

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Three Need-To-Know Canadian Patent Decisions That Impact Pharma, Biotech and Generics Companies

In Canada, linkage regulations similar to the Hatch-Waxman Act in the U.S. ensure that generics manufacturers have to address relevant patents listed on the Patent Register (the analog to the Orange Book) if they want to market their product prior to the expiry of listed patents.   Generics manufacturers can do so either by accepting the terms of the patents, or by filing a Notice of Allegation (NOA) alleging, amongst other things, that they will not infringe the patent or that the patent is invalid.

Three recent decisions litigated in this context contain important notes for pharma companies, biotech companies, generics companies and their patent attorneys and agents. 

  1. The Patent Act (post-1996) Imposes a Duty of Candour and Good Faith. In Lundbeck Canada Inc. et al  v. Ratiopharm Inc., Lundbeck’s patent was invalidated because the patent agents failed to “fully and fairly describe[]” the prior art in responding to an obviousness rejection raised by the patent examiner.  This decision may take on a broader impact, particularly if it is interpreted to require Canadian applicants to affirmatively inform examiners of aspects of the prior art that are both favourable and unfavourable.
  2. Formulation Patents Must Claim All Medicinal Ingredients.  In Bayer Inc. v. Canada (Minister of Health) et. al., Bayer’s patent was held to be ineligible for listing on the Patent Register, despite reading on the product.  Where the approved product contains a formulation with more than one medicinal ingredient, only patents that claim formulations containing all of the approved medicinal ingredients may be listed on the Patent Register, regardless of whether the product is covered by the patent claims.
  3. Disclaimers Can Be Validly Filed After Receipt of a NOA.  In sanofi-aventis Canada Inc. v. Hospira Healthcare Corporation, sanofi responded to Hospira’s NOA by filing a disclaimer in respect of a portion of one of sanofi’s listed patents.  Hospira argued that the Court should consider the sanofi patent as it read on the date the NOA was served and not as it read after the disclaimer was filed.  Although the court held (in favour of sanofi) that the patent should be read as of the date of the hearing, it also held that sanofi’s particular disclaimer was invalid because the patentee had not unequivocally testified that the disclaimer was a result of claiming too broadly in the patent as issued. Such an admission was necessary to the validity of the disclaimer.  The court also held that having attempted a disclaimer, sanofi could not subsequently assert against Hospira the portions of the patent it had attempted to disclaim.

Thanks to Kavita Ramamoorthy and the whole Life Sciences team.

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REMS and Generics — Like Oil and Water

A great post from Michael McCaughan at the In Vivo Blog walks through the very complicated interaction between the world of REMS — the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies that impose tight controls on the distribution channels for certain drugs — and the world of generics.

Under the FDA Amendments Act, which started the whole REMS business, REMS programs aren’t supposed to block or delay generic competition; but it’s not clear the legislators thought this through.  Says Michael:

does FDA really want to make it simple for dozens of sponsors to launch versions of drugs like thalidomide, when the agency has already determined that the risks of inappropriate use are high enough to merit costly, burdensome post-marketing restrictions?

We’ll find out soon… The generics maker Dr. Reddy’s has been unable to obtain any of Celgene’s anti-cancer drug Revlimid to use as a comparator in bioequivalence trials, so they’ve filed a citizen petition with the FDA.  Dr. Reddy’s is proposing mandated access to REMS-covered drugs at market prices for FDA-authorized generics manufacturers.

His bottom line:

Our hunch: products covered by restricted distribution programs will end up looking more like biotech therapies facing follow-on competition than they will like conventional generic drugs.

My bottom line:

If that hunch is right, we’ll know soon enough because innovator pharmas will all be planning REMS generics to go along with their biosimilar plays.

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Brain Dump: Vacation Edition

A bit of catching up from the last few days:

Finally, a video that will brighten your day, even though it’s an ad:

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Trends Update — Shifting IP Constituencies: AstraZeneca’s R&D Investment in India’s Jubilant

world_map_2002One of our trends in 2009 series is following the increasing innovative activity in India and China, which has the potential to reshape WTO debates around IP protection.

Yesterday, FierceBiotech picked up a Reuters report that AstraZeneca will be funding five years’ work in neuroscience R&D at India’s Jubilant Organosys.  Jubilant was… well … very happy about the deal, which could lead to up to $200 million in milestone payments.  Jubilant also works with Eli Lilly on drug discovery and partnered drug development.  Interestingly, the article juxtaposes Jubilant’s R&D deal with its Monday FDA approval for a generic product.

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Swine Flu, Snake Oil

antigenicshift_hirescrop1A warning from Health Canada about various products you should not buy or take that claim to “to fight or prevent H1N1 flu virus.”  Basically, there is no such thing as generic Tamiflu or Relenza approved in Canada.  Don’t get swine-dled.

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Trends Update — IP Constituencies: Sanofi Buys Medley in Brazil

Continuing a trend we have been following of increased “innovator” pharma investment in global generics and biosimilars, Sanofi-Aventis is spending €500 million to acquire Medley, a  privately-held Brazilian manufacturer. The acquisition will make Sanofi Latin America’s biggest generics manufacturer.  A post at the WSJ Health Blog on the acquisition includes a nice overview of the other recent pharma-generics deals.

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Trends in 2009: Shifting IP Constituencies as Innovator Pharma Buys Generics and Asia Turns to Innovation

Growing industrial and geopolitical realignment of economic interests has the potential to re-define intellectual property constituencies in 2009.

1.  Industrial realignment: the entry of innovator pharma companies into the generics business.

This year has already seen Merck get into follow-on biologics by buying Insimed and Pfizer build its generics business with its Aurobindo deal.  As traditional innovator pharma companies become more invested in follow-on biologics and small molecule generics, they will have a greater (self-)interest in a functioning subsequent entry pathway. 

Watch how this is playing out in the follow-on biologics arena as two competing FOB bills make their way through Congress.  Right now, the 12-year exclusivity period in the Eshoo-Barton FOB bill and the 5-year exclusivity period in Waxman’s FOB bill are duking it out, and we’re already seeing increased industry flexibility.  Innovator pharma has historically insisted on a 14-year exclusivity period to accompany follow-on biologics legislation, but BIO has already indicated some willingness to support Eshoo-Barton, as has PhRMA

Dani’s the expert, but my layman’s guess is that we get a FOB pathway this time around, and that the exclusivity number lands somewhere in the 8-10 year range.  This is consistent with a Teva-promoted analysis and it’s easy to see that it covers the arithmetic middle ground.

2.  Geopolitical realignment: increasing innovative activity in Asia, which has historically focused more on generics.

In China, a recent deal between Lotus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCBB: LTUS) and Beijing Yipuan Bio-Medical Technology Co., Ltd. (“Yipuan”) to acquire the drug Yipubishan points to China’s interest in promoting innovation.  Yipubishan, which is used to treat the symptoms of gastric ulcers and hemorrhages of the upper digestive tract, was partly funded through the use of grants from the Innovation Fund for Small – Medium Technology Based Firms of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the PRC.  Yipubishan became the first prescription drug of its kind developed in China to be included in the National Torch Project, which recognizes and promotes commercialization of high-tech discoveries and encourages companies to use high technology.  The Torch Project is one of a series of PRC Science and Technology initiatives.

In India, Wockhardt’s pioneering efforts in biotechnology are among many signs of increasing innovative activity, and have attracted interest from Pfizer and Sanofi.  Wockhardt has set up a global-scale biopharmaceuticals manufacturing powerhouse, the Wockhardt Biotech Park, in Aurangabad, India. This state-of-the-art complex comprises six dedicated, manufacturing facilities, and is designed according to US FDA and EMEA standards. It will also house new biotechnology products that are currently in various stages of development. The complex has the capacity to cater to 10-15% of global demand for major biopharmaceuticals.

India and China are in the 3rd quintile of countries in the 2009 IPRI Report, with India ranking 46/115 and China ranking 68/115 but they are steadily increasing their innovative activity. 

Within a short span, I would expect them to rank more like Israel, which has a world-class innovative industry as well as a strong generics industry (Teva), or Taiwan, which recently announced an initiative to boost cleantech and biotech.  Both Israel and Taiwan are ranked 29/115 in the 2009 IPRI Report. 

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