16 July 2015Americas

PTAB to investigate HIV drug patent

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has partly accepted pharmaceutical company Lupin Limited’s petition for an inter partes review (IPR) of claims in a patent covering a compound that helps to treat HIV.

The patent, US number 6,436,989, is owned by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and was approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2002.

The patent is directed to “prodrugs of HIV aspartyl protease inhibitors, pharmaceutical compositions thereof, and methods of treating mammals therewith”.

Prodrugs are typically inactive compounds that convert to an active form in the body.

Lupin challenged the patent’s validity on the grounds that claims 1 to 12 were obvious.

The PTAB agreed to institute an IPR review on Thursday, July 9, but only of claims 1, and 4 to 9. The other claims were found valid by the three-judge panel.

“Regarding claims 1, and 4 to 9 we have determined that there is a reasonable likelihood that petitioner would prevail on its assertion that claims 1, and 4 to 9 would have been obvious,” Administrative Patent Judge Sheriden Snedden wrote.

The PTAB has been at the centre of much discussion among lawyers in the life sciences sector. Last month it allowed biotechnology company Celgene to move forward with seeking sanctions against Kyle Bass and his organisation the Coalition For Affordable Drugs, which had challenged several Celgene patents.

In a letter to the PTAB before it issued the decision, the biotech claimed Bass is using IPRs for the “purpose of affecting the value of public companies”.

Celgene’s motion followed Bass’s IPR petition, filed in April, which challenged four patents owned by the biotech.

Neither Lupin nor Vertex had responded to a request for comment at the time of publication, but we will update the story should either company get in touch.

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