photo-teva
Photo: Teva
29 September 2015Asia-Pacific

Global Pharma IP Forum: Japan’s Supreme Court Teva decision a ‘death sentence’

A Japanese lawyer has described a ruling by the Supreme Court of Japan as a “death sentence” for product-by-process patents and said it is a good time for drugs companies to challenge rivals’ patents.

Takanori Abe, partner at Abe & Partners, was speaking at the Global Pharma IP Forum yesterday, September 28, at the London Stock Exchange.

In June this year, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in a dispute between Teva and Japan-based Kyowa Hakko Kirin.

Teva was seeking an injunction against a Kyowa medicinal product which allegedly infringed one of Teva’s product-by-process patents covering its Pravachol (pravastatin) drug, used to reduce cholesterol levels.

In its decision, the Supreme Court reversed a ruling by Japan’s Intellectual Property High Court and said that the patent lacks clarity. It remanded the case back to the high court.

Abe said that the decision represents a “death sentence” for product-by-process patents and warned delegates about applying for such patents in the future.

He also reported on the antagonisms between the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and the high court on the issue of patent extension.

One example of this is the high court’s reversal last year of the JPO’s decision to deny an extension to pharma company Takeda for a combination drug patent.

The patent covered Takeda’s blockbuster drug Actos (pioglitazone), which is used to treat diabetes, and had previously expired.

The high court ruled that an extension can be granted if the drug is given a new marketing approval.

Abe added that he expects further battles between generics and big pharma companies as the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare continues its mission of increasing the number of generic products it uses to 80%. The intention is to cut costs at the ministry.

As of 2011, generic products constituted 22% of drugs given to patients within the health system, up from 16% in 2005.

Abe said the ministry is following this policy as budgetary constraints are imposed on the department by the Japanese Ministry of Finance.

The Global Pharma IP Forum took place yesterday at the London Stock Exchange.

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