STAT News’ Ed Silverman reports health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Louisiana filed a lawsuit against a Johnson & Johnson unit. BCBS alleged that Johnson & Johnson are filing “sham” patent litigation in an strategy to block generic competition against it best selling Zytiga prostate cancer treatment. Follow the link to the source and register for the STAT as their journalists are producing fine work.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana
Janssen Biotech, a J&J subsidiary
Janssen Biotech files sham patent litigation to block genetic competition. The payer also claims that Janssen and its biopharma partner British Technology Group deceived U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when filing one of the patent applications by not disclosing relevant details to the office. Consequently, the defendant was able to thwart generic competitors for lengthier period of time.
Additionally, the plaintiff claims Janssen filed patent infringement lawsuits against several generic companies and unfairly used patents to delay generic competition.
Janssen won its patent in 2004 for Zytiga. By 2014, they were able to extend the patent and were granted another resulting in an extension till 2016. BCBS exposed that Janssen has outmaneuvered competition by creating specialty pharmacy networks that are incentivized to sell Zytiga—essentially paying participants to distribute the medicine. The Plaintiffs are on the record that Janssen’s “wrongful conduct delayed generic competition by more than one year, and during that time, Zytiga was among the most profitable drugs sold by Janssen’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson.”
Approved by the FDA in 2011, Zytiga is J&J’s bestselling cancer drug. By 2017, the drug generated $2.5 billion in annual sales. Half of the sales are in the U.S., where a court case back in 2018 adversely impacted their market position—opening the door up for generic competitors. The U.S. Patent & Trade Mark Office overthrew a key patent which would have protected Zytiga till 2027. That paved the way for genetic producers, such as Argentum, to market cheaper generic products.
Zytiga also competes against branded products such as Xtandi (enzalutamide) made by Medivation (Pfizer). As reported last year, Zytiga bolsters J&J’s commercial cancer portfolio. It fights for its extension as the only other cancer medicines generating significant revenue include Darzalex, Imbruvica and Velcade.