IL 142809 to Pharmacia Successfully Opposed by Teva Pharmaceuticals

March 18, 2015

R&R          R&R2

IL 142809 to Pharmacia AB was submitted on 25 April 2001 as a national phase entry of PCT/SE/99/02052 “NEW CONTROLLED RELEASE BEAD, A METHOD OF PRODUCING THE SAME AND MULTIPLE UNIT FORMULATION COMPRISING IT”. This published as WO 0027364 on 11 November 1999. The application claims priority from another PCT application filed a year earlier.
On allowance in 2006, the patent published for opposition purposes and on 18 May 2006 Teva filed an Opposition, submitting a detailed statement of case on 18 October 2006. On 12 march 2007 Pharmacia filed a counter-statement. Both sides submitted evidence, held a hearing before then Deputy Commissioner Noah Shalev Shmulovich and then filed their summaries.

As per regulation 202a, the current commissioner, Asa Kling ruled on the opposition based on the material of record.

The application is directed to a bead with controlled release of active ingredients, a method of manufacture and a multi-part formulation that includes the active ingredients. Essentially, the bead comprises a multilayer structure that includes a soluble core covered with non-soluble coatings, and the patent has 23 claims, two of which are independent.

Claim 1 is as follows:

 A controlled release bead comprising:
A core unit of a substantially water-soluble or water-swellable inert material;
A first layer on the core unit of a substantially water-insoluble polymer;
A second layer covering the first layer and containing an active ingredient; and
A third layer of polymer on the second layer effective for controlled release of the active ingredient,
Wherein said first layer is adapted to control water penetration into the core.

Claims 2-7 recite the various lawyers and their formulations and thicknesses. Claim 8 is a Markush claim for various active ingredients. Claims 9and 10 claim different forms of the active ingredient. Claim 10 claims use in vitro. Claims 11-14 claim different materials for the first three coatings. Claim 15 provides dimensions for the core and claims 16 and 17 claim multidose structures.

Claim 18 recites a corresponding method as follows:

 A method of producing a controlled release bead, which method comprises the steps of:
providing a core unit of a substantially water-soluble or water swellable material;
applying a first layer of a substantially water-insoluble polymer to said core;
applying onto said first layer, a second layer comprising an active ingredient and optionally a polymer binder; and
applying onto said second layer, a third polymer layer effective for controlled release of the active ingredient;
Wherein the amount of material in said first is selected to provide a layer thickness that permits control of water penetration into the core.

Claims 19, 21 and 23 claim use of the bead for a treatment for various diseases and claims `19 and 21 claim the active ingredient as tolderene or a salt thereof.

Grounds for Opposition
The opposition was based on lack of inventive step (obviousness) under section 5 of the Israel Patent Law 1967. In addition, Teva claimed that some of the claims lack utility contrary to Section 3, that some of the claims lack support from the specification in contravention to Section 13 and the Application is laconic and contravenes Section 12.
Pharmacia argued that claiming that the specification was laconic was an inadmissible widening of the Statement of Case, but the Commissioner, Asa Kling felt that the alleged inadequacy of the specification was inherent in the Statement of Case and that Pharmacia related to the issue so he considered it admissible.
As to inventive step, the Commissioner explained that if at the time of filing, the claimed invention was a simple extrapolation that could be considered as a simple development within the field and allowing a patent for it would prevent progress, it would be incorrect to allow a patent.
The Commissioner noted that both sides accepted that beads allowing controlled release of active ingredients that comprised a miscible or non-miscible core, a sealcoat, layers of active ingredients and additional layers were known at the filing date. The sealcoat serves to protect the active ingredient from reaction with the core and may be water impervious or slightly pervious. In the present invention such water penetration was controlled but in the prior art it was less controlled.

Not that kind of seal coat

Not that kind of seal coat

The present invention differs from the prior art in two ways: (i) the sealcoat is miscible in the prior art but is immiscible in the present invention, and (ii) the seal coat of the present invention is rather thicker than usual, but the thickness is not mentioned in the claim-set.

Teva argued that since the core in this case is impervious the sealcoat is superfluous and non-functional and there is no effective difference from the core of the present invention and that of the prior art.

Teva argued that in the priority document this was stated explicitly:

“Each bead comprises (i) a core unit of a water-soluble, water-swellable or water-insoluble inert material (having a size of about 0.05 to 2 about 2 mm), such as e.g. a sucrose sphere; (ii) a first layer on the core of a substantially water-insoluble (often hydrophilic) polymer (this layer may be omitted in the case of an insoluble core, such as e.g. of silicon dioxide), (iii) a second layer of a water-soluble polymer having an active ingredient dissolved or dispersed therein, and (iv) a third polymer layer effective for controlled release of the active ingredient (e.g. a water-insoluble polymer in combination with a water-soluble polymer)”. (WO0012069 page 6 line 33 to page 7 line 6). This point was also clear from US 6,770,295 to the same applicants.

The Applicant countered that the opposer’s explanation of the phrase “control water penetration into the core” was a misrepresentation and the correct explanation is found on page 2 lines 23-25 of the Application and only rates to beads wherein the water penetration to the core is impeded in a controlled manner and excludes beads where the core is protected by an impervious layer. The Applicant argued that the claim of lack of inventive step was based on this wrong interpretation.  In contradistinction to immiscible cores of the prior art in the present invention the core is miscible and is protected by a partial barrier sealcoat which allows controlled release.
The applicant could not explain the working of the sealcoat and how it inhibited release of the active ingredient but argued that the phenomenon exists and this is sufficient for both enablement and inventive step.
It seems therefore, that the key question is whether an immiscible core or a miscible core protected by an immiscible coating are equivalent or if a miscible core protected by an immiscible coating can be considered inventive over an immiscible core. Citing 345/87 Hughes Aircraft vs. State of Israel, it is accepted that a mere scintilla of invention is sufficient, and the question is whether this exists in the present case.

Utility
Teva argued that the utility was not demonstrated in contravention of Section 3 which allows patents for inventions that are new, useful, industrially applicable and non-obvious.
In oppositions, the onus is on the applicant to show utility. Citing 665/84 Sanofi vs, Unipharm the commissioner stated that the application as field has to provide a basis for utility and, if challenged, the Applicant has to prove utility during opposition proceedings. IN enforcement and cancellation proceedings the burden of proof switches and the challenger has to show a lack of utility. Consequently, the Commissioner ruled that without proof of usefulness a patent should not be granted.

According to the Specification, there are three advantages:

  • The claimed bead prevents the soluble core from serving as a reservoir of the active ingredient and extending the controlled release period
  • It reduces the likelihood of the core material releasing active ingredients and reduces the atmospheric pressure (specific vapour pressure?) and prevents the core from swelling
  • It reduces the initial phase during which there is no release of the active ingredient or only minimal release

According to the applicant these advantages transcend specific active ingredients.

The Opposer argued that these advantages are claimed for the specific active ingredient and for other non-specified active ingredients without any rationale or evidence.

Evidence
The evidence from each side consisted of expert opinions. Teva produced an expert opinion from Professor Golomb, and Pharmacia releid on expert opinions from Professor Wilson and from a Professor Walther who attempted to reproduce the experiments described in the application.
Professor Walther conducted a number of experiments to demonstrate that claimed in the first example for different active biological compounds. These, together with raw data were appended to Professor Walther’s affidavit at the Commissioner’s request.
There were differences between the raw data and the final conclusions with regard to what active species showed the desired effects and whether a heat treatment affected the results. The Commissioner felt that the discrepancies required explanation.
The Applicant claimed that Tolterodine exhibited the desired behavior, as did Reboxetine and cona, theopheylline and Carbamazepine. This was held sufficient to show that the behavior was a general phenomenon.
The tests related to a core with three coatings whereas the specification proposed a fourth optional coating. This, together with other discrepancies were considered to show light on the utility.
The thick initial layer did show slow release of the Tolterodine in a manner that was close to linear.
In the Application, after three hours some 70% of the active ingredient ws released, but in Dr Walther’s corroborative experiments, after this time lapse, only 43% of the active ingredient had been released.
When comparing Professor Walther’s results with the experiments in the specification it appears that the applicant had problems repeating their own experiments. The problem seems to be that Professor Walther simplified the experimental design and still could not achieve meaningful results. He was able to show that a thicker coating impeded release of the active ingredient but not in a qualifiable and repeatable manner.
As far as Tolterodine, the preferred active ingredient was concerned, Professor Walther was unable to show a correlation between thickness and the rate of release and was unable to repeat the examples in the Application. The Commissioner considered the lack of repeatability an reproducibility as undermining the claimed utility and barring the issuance of a patent.
Adequacy of the Specification
Section 12 requires that the specification be adequate to allow persons of the art to implement the invention. The rationale for granting a patent is in exchange for teaching something useful and failure to teach something sufficiently to allow the teaching to be repeated is considered as invalidating the application: “The sufficiency of a specification is a question of fact and necessarily depends upon the nature of the invention and attributes of the skilled person.” ( Hollister [1993] R.P.C. 7 para. 10-14). In this instance, the purpose of the patent as specified in the priority document was to enable the controlled release of the active ingredient at a predetermined rate over the shelf life of the product.
“An important aspect of all controlled release dosage forms relates to the need for consistent drug release between dose units prepared in the same and/or in different production batches, and throughout the shelf-life of the finished product.”

The surelease polymer specified in the specification and used by Professor Walther in his experiments was supposed to provide repeatable and reproducible results:

“In one embodiment, the invention provides a commercial-scale process for manufacture of controlled-release dosage units. The process comprises co-formulating tolterodine or a tolterodine-related compound as an active drug and a pharmaceutically acceptable polymer-based release-controlling component. … more preferably substantially all of the polymer-based release-controlling component used in the process has an age, at time of dosage unit manufacture, which varies by not more than about 180 days, preferably not more than about 120 days, and more preferably not more than about 90 days.”

Professor Walther was unable to show this control. Under cross-examination he stated that:

“So what we know is that Surelease has lot to lot variability. So one batch of Surelease may perform slightly different from another batch of Surelease. That is an effect that the suppliers do know and understand and that is something that, as part of any formulation development, you would establish how robust a product is towards variability and providing sufficient specifications then on it.”

The problem is that this variable is not described in the specification, rendering the claimed invention not enabled.
The Commissioner ruled that the claimed invention does not have demonstrable superiority, lacked sufficient disclosure and enablement and that no inventive step was shown. Consequently the application was refused.

COMMENT
Active ingredients are released from the surface of solids. This is true for components that leach out and for components that are released when a carrier dissolves.
As particles shrink, the surface area to volume ratio increases and the rate of dissolution increases. Having a non-functioning core surrounded with a coating containing active ingredients is to ensure that the effective surface area remains more or less constant and thus the active ingredients are released at a constant rate.
The above explanation is obvious to anyone with a background of materials science and chemistry.
Drugs are more effective if the dosage is released slowly at a constant and predictable rate.
The present invention seems to be based on the premise that over time the core will absorb the active ingredient and that a coated absorbent core is better than a non-absorbent one.
The application is based on Tolterodine as an active material, but other pharmaceutical compounds may be expected to behave in the same way.
Of course, using the same binder and beads of constant diameter won’t give reproducible results if there are other significant variables. The problem here is that the Applicant’s own attempts to demonstrate the efficacy of the claimed invention failed. In such circumstances, the Commissioner couldn’t really have come to a different conclusion than that the application was deeply flawed as the person of the art selected by the applicant was unable to reproduce the results.

The previous Deputy Commissioner resigned four years ago. Obviously this was only one case of many that the current commissioner and his deputy or adjudicator had to rule on. Nevertheless, it seems to me intolerable that the parties should have to wait for four years for this ruling and one wonders why the previous deputy commissioner couldn’t have left less abruptly, and finished these pending cases.

 


A Request for a Patent Term Extension for IL 117459 “DNA ENCODING HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS TYPE 18” to Merck

February 10, 2015

gardasil

IL 117459 “DNA ENCODING HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS TYPE 18” to Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. was filed on 13 March 1996, and is due to expire on 13 March 2016.

Back in August 2007 a Request for Patent Term Extension was filed based on the commercially available preparation Gardasil. The pharmaceutical preparation contains four active ingredients: Protein L1, types 6, 11, 16 and 18.

The patent claims the Protein L1 type 18 as a product of genetic engineering. The patent relates to the other types of Protein L1 except for HPV 6 L1 for which no patent applications were submitted anywhere. The protein HPV 16 L1 was not claimed in any patent application filed in Israel. HPV 11 L1 was claimed in IL 117591 and expires on 21 March 2016. However, no applications for patent term extensions were filed for this protein.

The legal question that this decision addresses is whether a patent term extension can be requested for a patent that protects only one active ingredient of a pharmaceutical preparation.

The claims of IL 117459 cover a gene sequence of Protein L1 type 18, a vector including the gene sequence, a cell embodying the vector a process of expressing the gene sequence and a preparation that causes a vaccination to the protein including the gene sequence.

The senior examiner considers that Gardasil includes four proteins and any changes in any of them or preparations of three or less will result in a different medicament. Consequently, she considered that there is an inconsistency between the medicine and the claimed invention, in that not all the active ingredients of the claimed invention are in the basic patent.

The Applicant countered that claim 12 of IL 117459  covers a composition that includes (inter alia) HPV 18 L1 and thus the patent does not limit itself to this substance. Consequently, Applicant claims that IL 117459 is a basic patent as defined in Section 64a of the Israel Patent Law 1967 and as referenced in Section 64d. The Law does not require that a basic patent should include all active ingredients of a commercial product, and only one such active ingredient need be listed. Support for this interpretation was argued based on the wording of 64h(d) which relates to an active ingredient included in a preparation and claimed in the basic patent

The Applicant alleged that interpretations that a basic patent should include all active ingredients of the commercially available preparation is contrary to the underlying logic of the legislation and it is unreasonable to include such a limitation by judicial interpretation.

The senior examiner rejected these arguments and the Applicant requested an oral hearing which was held on 28 October 2014 and the Applicant was granted until 10 December 2014 to submit a summary of his arguments.

Section 64d states:

The Commissioner should not grant a patent term extension unless all the following apply:

  • the composition, process for its preparation and usage thereof, medical preparation including the composition, its process for preparation and medical equipment are claimed in a basic latent that is in force.

Section 64a defines the terms ‘composition, ‘medical preparation’ and ‘basic patent’ as follows:

  • Medical preparation – any form of medical drug that has been processed, including preparations for veterinarian applications and those having nutritional value that are injected intravenously.
  • Composition – the active ingredient or salts, esters, hydrates or crystals of the composition.
  • Basic Patent – a patent protecting any composition, production method, use, medical preparation including the composition, or any medical equipment requiring regulatory approval in Israel.

Based on the court ruling concerning the Appeal to patent term extension for IL 97219 to Novartis (26/12/2005) the term composition means a single active ingredient.

In Novartis, then Commissioner Dr Meir Noam (himself a chemist) ruled that the term basic patent in both Section 64a and 64d relates to the first patent that protects an active ingredient and that the term composition is in the singular, implying that one new ingredient is sufficient and that novel combinations of known ingredients cannot be considered as a basic patent.  A preparation that includes one new ingredient that requires regulatory approval may be protected by extending a basic patent. Combinations, aggregations and synergies of known ingredients may be patentable but such patents are not basic patents.

In this instance, the issue is the regulatory approval of a combination of active ingredients, not the basic patent. Gardasil includes four active ingredients. Each one provides a parallel vaccination effect and maintains its pharmaceutical character. The four proteins are separately synthesized by fermentation in recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae (a species of yeast) but are combined into one treatment for economical reasons and due to ease of use.

(HPV Type 16 L1 and HPV type 18 L1 are also components of the registered drug Cervarix registered to a third party, and the proteins are each separately active.  However, Cervarix was registered after Gardasil).

Since the drug Gardasil comprises four separately active ingredients that each has an independent effect and do not work as a synergy, the Commissioner accepted that Gardasil could serve as the first regulatory approval of HPV type 18 L1. He found support in the ruling fo Judge Dotan in the Novartis case. He noted that Merck could have requested regulatory approval for the four proteins separately and the discussion would be moot. Finally, citing the Neurim ruling (13281-06-12 based on the ECJ ruling that Melatonin for treating insomnia was not obvious in light of veterinary treatment for causing sheep to rut earlier), it is clear that the purpose of the Law is to provide patent term extensions for new types of treatment, and there was no reason why the Applicant should have had to register each active ingredient separately.

Furthermore, in Appeal 223/07 Lundbeck vs. Unipharm it was ruled that patent term extensions should be analyzed from an IP perspective and not from a pharmaceutical perspective. The Supreme Court upheld this ruling.

Furthermore, in the medical register, Gardasil is listed as including four active ingredients, including HPV 18 L1, and this is, indeed, the first medical registration of this ingredient in Israel.

Consequently, based on the extension awarded in the UK for EP 1359156, the Israel patent was extended 493 days to 19 July 2017.

Ex Partes ruling concerning patent term extensions to IL 117459 “DNA ENCODING HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS TYPE 18” to Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. by Commissioner Asa Kling, 11 January 2015.

COMMENT

This is a publication of an ex-partes ruling. It is possible that local generic manufacturers such as Teva or Unipharm may challenge this.


On Blood Pressure and Diabetes. Can citations post-dating the effective Filing Date be used as evidence of what was known at the time of filing?

February 10, 2015

 

blood pressure

Israel Patent Application No. 140665 to Novartis relates to preparations including Valsartan and Amlodipine for treating high blood pressure and diabetes. The application is a national phase of PCT/EP/1999/004842 and claims priority from an earlier US patent application.

The patent was allowed and published for opposition purposes on 23 December 2012 and is being opposed by both Teva Pharmaceuticals LTD. and by Unipharm LTD.

The Opposers submitted an expert opinion from a Professor Chimlichman to the effect that the combination was known from various publications and his treatment of hyper-tension and thus were lacking novelty at the priority date.

On response to evidence by the Applicant, the Opposers submitted a second opinion in which he relied on two references that were published after the priority date to determine novelty and inventiveness at the time of the priority date. Since these publications were not prior art, the Applicant requested that they were deleted from the opinion and espunged from the record.

Professor Chimlichman claimed that his treatment before the priority date was supported by GYH Lip et al., “The `Birmingham Hypertension Square` for the Optimum Choice of Add-in Drugs in the Management of Resistant Hypertension”, Journal of Human Hypertension (1998) 12, 761-763. Whilst the publication itself was certainly published after the priority date, it relates to clinical tests using the combination of the two drugs and must have been written prior to being published and describes what the authors knew prior to the priority date.

Furthermore, a response to Lip et al. subsequently published in the same journal provides additional evidence that the combinatory effect was known

Whilst accepting that the two publications were not themselves prior art, the opposers argued that they indicated the state of the art at the priority date and should be examined on their merits and not expunged from the record. Furthermore, the additional evidence was brought in response to statements my Professor Daloph, the expert witness of the Applicant.

The Opponents cited Unipharm vs. SmithKline Beechan and Orbotech vs Camtek to support their argument that the papers should be examined on their merits.

Ruling

Opposers are limited in what they can submit in response to the patentee’s evidence. They are not allowed to widen the statement of case. In this instance the additional evidence is supplementary evidence to support their main grounds of opposition, i.e. that the combination was known. There is no evidence given to explain why these papers weren’t submitted in the original round of evidence. The Opposer submits his evidence first and is entitled to respond to the counter-evidence. This gives him a procedural advantage and allowing the submission of additional evidence that could have been submitted in the first submission unfairly disadvantages the applicant.

Comment

Although not allowed to be added to the record, as it could have been submitted earlier, this ruling does seem to indicate that such post priority publications may indeed be used to show what was prior art.


US Supreme Court Overturns Federal Circuit’s Ruling Regarding Validity of Patent for Teva’s Copaxone

January 21, 2015

copaxone

Copaxone is a blockbuster drug based on the glatiramer acetate copolymer which was patented by Yeda (the Tech Transfer Company of the Weizman Institute) and licensed exclusively to Teva to manufacture.

On Tuesday 20 January 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court reversed an appeals court ruling that invalidated Teva Pharmaceutical Industries patent on the blockbuster multiple-sclerosis drug Copaxone, giving the drug maker a new opportunity to forestall generic competition.

The claims specify a particular molecular weight range but do not specify what method was used to measure the molecular weight. Sandoz argued that this is a fatal flaw and the claims are indefinite under §112. The District Court found for Teva, and was convinced by Teva’s argument that the claim clearly meant the “peak average molecular weight”, and not either of the two alternatives of “number average molecular weight” or “weight average molecular weight”.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit held to the contrary and found the patent invalid for indefiniteness. In reaching this conclusion, the Federal Circuit reviewed de novo all aspects of the District Court’s claim construction, including the District Court’s determination of subsidiary facts. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether that was permissible, or whether the Federal Circuit had impermissibly set aside the District Court’s findings of fact without the requisite finding of clear error on the part of the District Court (in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a)(6), for what it is worth). The Supreme Court of the USA accepted TEVA’s appeal that found that the Federal Circuit had indeed impermissibly conducted a de novo factual review. So the Federal Circuit’s decision was vacated and the case remanded.

The Supreme Court Decision ruling was made by seven judges with two dissenting. Justice Breyer gave the Opinion with Justices Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan affirming. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion which Justice Alito concurred with. According the majority opinion the Federal Circuit had indeed impermissibly conducted a de novo factual review. So the Federal Circuit’s decision was vacated and the case remanded. In the dissenting view, the opinion was that the Federal Circuit had not overturned findings of fact, but had instead formed a different conclusion of law as to the claim construction. Therefore, there had been no breach of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The case has been referred back to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

COMMENT

The ruling will help TEVA prevent generic competitors from entering the Copaxone market until the patent expires in September. There seems to be a power struggle going on in the US court system with the Supreme Court reprimanding the Federal Circuit for assuming powers that are not rightfully theirs.


IL 136294 to Pharmacia and Upjohn Successfully Opposed by Teva

October 20, 2014

Pharmacia

Pharmacia and Upjohn filed IL 136294, titled “Use of tolterodine, its 5-hydroxymethyl metabolite or racemate thereof in the preparation of medicaments for treating unstable or overactive urinary bladder”. On 6 May 2004, Teva filed an opposition.

The Application was a national phase entry of PCT/SE99/01463 which claimed priority from SE 9802864-0 and SE 9802871-4 filed on 27 August and 11 November 1998 respectively.

On 11 June 2003, a Divisional Application (IL 156414) was filed. Following the publication of patent office circular M.N. 23, the Opposition was frozen pending Examination of the Divisional Application. On 20 March 2006 the Divisional Application was abandoned and the file closed, and the Opposition procedure in the parent application was restarted.

On 19 June 2006, Teva submitted a detailed Opposition and Upjohn filed a counterclaim on 13 November 2006. Following submission of evidence, counter-evidence and responses, a hearing was held on 1 and 2 April 2009 before then Commissioner, Dr Meir Noam.

After the hearing, the parties submitted their concluding remarks between 21 April 2010 and 26 January 2012, after Dr Noam’s term of office finished. The Present Commissioner, Asa Kling, ruled on the case under regulation 202a, on the basis of the material in the file.

According to the Commissioner, the Opposition is two-fold. The Opposers argue that there is no inventive step in contravention to Section 5 of the Patent Law, and that the claimed invention is a method of treatment of Man and thus contrary to Section 7.

The Opposer, Teva, submitted their evidence via an opinion of Professor Danon. The applicant, Upjohn, submitted their evidence via an Opinion from Professor Abrams and a statement of Dr Wood. Teva submitted counter-claims via a second affidavit of Prof. Danon and an opinion by Professor Mor.

The patent relates to a treatment for sufferers of unstable or overactive urinary bladder. The problem is caused by a lack of control of smooth muscles around the bladder that receive electronic stimulation. The standard treatment at the time of filing involved desensitizing the nerves with tolterodine or oxybotynin. Both desensitizers had various adverse side effects including dryness of mouth. In minimizing this side effect, tolterodine was preferable to oxybotynin. Tolterodine is (R)-N, N-diisopropyl-3-(2-hydroxy-5-methylphenyl)-3-phenylpropanamine, where R indicates the Right handed enantiomer, and S, the sinister, or left handed enantiomer which does not work. The two desensitizers and the enantiomers are discussed in the specification.

The Application as allowed had 17 claims, of which claims 1, 8, 16 and 17 are independent.

Claim 1 is as follows:

  1. Use of tolterodine, its 5-hydroxymethyl metabolite or the recemate corresponding to tolterodine, or a pharmaceutically acceptable salt thereof, in a pharmaceutically effective amount thereof through a controlled release formulation capable of maintaining a substantially constant serum level of the active moiety or moieties for at least 24 hours, wherein the 24-hour serum profile, expressed as the AUC of unbound tolterodine and 5-hydroxymethyl metabolite, is form 5 to about 150 nM*h, for the manufacture of a therapeutical formulation for treating unstable or overactive urinary bladder, substantially as described in the specification.

Claim 16 is similar, but includes the following limiting feature:

… with reduced undesirable side effects and with no reduction in the efficiency of the tolterodine compound…

Claim 8 is as follows:

  1. A pharmaceutical formulation containing tolterodine, its 5-hydroxymethyl metabolite or the recemate corresponding to tolterodine, or a pharmaceutically acceptable salt thereof, which formulation when administered to patient provides controlled release of said tolterodine its 5-hydroxymethyl metabolite or the recemate corresponding to tolterodine, or a pharmaceutically acceptable salt thereof, such that a substantially constant serum level of the active moiety or moieties is maintained foe at least 24 hours, wherein the 24-hour serum profile, expressed as the AUC of unbound tolterodine and 5-hydroxymethyl metabolite, is form 5 to about 150 nM*h.

Claim 17 follows claim 8 , but includes the following limiting feature:

…for efficacious therapy with reduced undesirable side effects…

In order to ascertain inventive step or non-obviousness, the standard is that of a person of the art. Professor Danon and Dr Wood are pharmacologists. Professor Mor and Professor Abrams are urologists. Both sides argued whether in this case the person of the art to determine non-obviousness would need to be would need to be a pharmacologist, a urologist or a team including both skills. Accroding tot he Commissioner, this question may be answered by reference to Former Supreme Court President Shamgar in 345/87 Hughes Aircraft vs. State of Israel P.D. 44(4) 45 (1990) as including a person or team with knowledge of relevant subject matter but no creative ability. The Opposer (Teva) considers the person of the art to be a pharmacologist specializing in the relationship between active ingredients and the human body. The Applicant considers that persons of the art may be a team including pharmacologists and doctors of the relevant speciality, which in this case includes urologists.

The Applicants distinguish between the pharmacological and the pharmo-kinetical aspects of the invention, which in their words, are directed to a pharmacologist or formulator, and the medicinal aspects of the drug which are directed to a urologist. Professor Abram’s opinion follows this distinction.

“Obviously, once the pharmaceutical invention is made… pharmacokinetic and pharmacologic considerations become relevant. However, unless the pharmaceutical invention is made first, the pharmacologist is not a relevant person.”

According to the Applicant, the motivation to develop a drug is based on medical needs and so the application is primarily directed to the urologist, and other professionals, such as pharmacologists are consulted only once the drug is being developed to answer a specific medical need.

The Opposer considers that the medical need is the problem to be solved, and the person to be consulted to solve the problem is the person the art. Support for this position is found in “Patents for Inventions” by T.A. Blanco White, 5th Edition page 90:

“In principle, it would seem clear that the proper people to think of in judging obviousness are those who would in practice be called upon to solve problems of the sort concerned.”

Furthermore, the Expert for the Applicant Professor Abrams himself stated that the urologist might identify the clinical condition and would describe it to the pharmacologist, which strengthens the position that the person of the art is, in fact, the pharmacologist.

The Commissioner ruled that the person of the art is indeed the pharmacologist, although the urologist might well initiate the process of developing a drug.

Support for this was found in Alza Corporation vs. Mylan, a US ruling concerning urine leakage, where it was stated that:

“In their post-trial memoranda, the parties do not directly dispute the level of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the ‘355 patent’s filing. Thus, based on the testimony of Dr. Amidon and Dr. Peppas, the Court finds that a person of ordinary skill in the art has either an advanced degree in pharmacy, biology, chemistry or chemical engineering and has at least two years of experience with controlled-release drug technologies, or possesses a bachelor’s degree in one (or more) of the same fields and has at least five years of experience with controlled-release drug technologies.”

Consequently, the Commissioner ruled that whilst a urologist could be included in the team, the persons of the art defining obvious would include a pharmacologist.

As far as inventive step is concerned, the issue in question boils down to whether something would have been considered obvious by a pharmacologist, or by a team consisting of a pharmacologist and a urologist.

Both sides agreed that:

  1. As of the priority date both tolterodine or oxybotynin in instant release form were being used to treat unsteady or over-active bladders. Furthermore, oxybotynin was also being used in a controlled release form.
  2. It was understood that oxybotynin caused more serious side effects of dry-mouth and thus tolterodine was the preferred treatment.
  3. Dry mouth symptoms of tolterodine were most prevalent when tolterodine was at its highest concentration in the blood.
  4. It was already established that tolterodine had a positive effect on unsteady or over-active bladders after its effect on saliva forming and the symptoms of dry-mouth had disappeared.
  5. Moving from instant release to slow release formulations may not be successful for treatment of unsteady or over-active bladders and the efficacy required clinical trials.
  6. The Applicants considered that the minimal problems of dry mouth associated with tolterodine in quick release form were such that there was no motivation to develop a slow release version of the drug. Furthermore, slow release Oxybotynin did not have less slide effects than the quick release version so the urologist would be likely to conclude that slow release tolterodine would behave in a similar fashion.

Finally, according to the Applicants, it transpires that the slow release tolderine is actually more effective. This is not supported by the specification and is first raised as a consideration in the Applicant’s statement of claims. There is no evidence that Applicant was previously aware of this point.

The Applicant does not claim that this fact is relevant to the issue of inventiveness, but the commissioner nevertheless emphasizes that such post filing revelations are irrelevant to the issue of inventive step (non-obviousness) and the Applicant can’t turn the clock back. There has to be an inventive step at the time of the priority filing (albeit, possibly one discovered by accident).

The parties now debated a very interesting point. Regardless of the surprising improvement of the not particularly serious dry mouth side effect, according to Teva there was a drive towards creating a slow release version of the treatment since this would enable taking a pill once a day instead of twice a day. They consider this fact self-evident and not requiring scientific proof.

Upjohn countered that this advantage of merely reducing the dosing frequency would not have warranted a switch to a controlled release treatment. They considered that the frequency of dosage was a minor issue for chronically ill patients and thus with the anticipation of increased side-effects, the drug developer would have no drive to develop a controlled release version. Citing Goldstein and Kalman:

“Certainly the oral ingestion of a drug 3 or 4 times daily presents no hardship to the patient; the substitution of a single daily dose of a sustained-release preparation would not be warranted unless some advantage other than convenience had been demonstrated.”

The Commissioner rejected this argument, preferring Glaxo group LTD’s Patent [2004] R. P. C. 843:

“That salmeterol would be the obvious substitution for salbutamol follows from the most basic consideration, that a drug that only needs to be taken twice a day will encourage compliance.”

And

“…the patent must be invalid, because I consider that the problem of compliance has, on the evidence, always been a problem.”

The Opposer considered that despite possible problems in achieving, it is obvious to try to reduce the dosage frequency, and thus a mere change in dosage frequency achieved by a coating is not inventive.

The Applicant countered that the development of a slow-release version warranted a patent since there were many cases where controlled release was less than successful, and they brought three examples of this.

The Opposer showed why the three examples were all exceptions to the rule and the commissioner felt that the onus was on the Applicant to show why this instance should be considered inventive.

Both parties accepted that tolterodine was preferable because of its lesser severe side effect of dry mouth. The Applicant considered that this being reduced further by controlled release dosages was patentable.

“According to the present invention it is now surprisingly been found that contrary to the case of oxybutynin, the substantial elimination of peak serum levels of tolterodine and its active metabolite through controlled release of tolterodine for an extended period of time, such as through a once-daily administration form, while maintaining the desired effect on the bladder, indeed gives a significant reduction of the (already low) side effects, particularly dry mouth, compared with those obtained for the same total dosage of immediate release tablets over same period.”

The commissioner noted that Upjohn had stated that this was a surprising discovery, but that they had not actually explained why this was the case. He noted that the Opposers reasoned that if regular tolterodine has lower dry mouth side effects than oxybutynin, this would remain the case with quick release versions.

The commissioner felt that the Applicants had not explained why, despite the fact that occasionally slow-release preparations might have unwarranted side effects or efficacy issues, it would not have been obvious to try to reduce the frequency of the dosage to once a day only.

Furthermore, earlier patent WO098/03067 notes that the S-enantiomer is preferable to the R-enantiomer and suggests a more frequent dosage or a controlled release. On this point, the Applicant tried to argue that since the current application relates to the S-enantiomer only, the earlier patent was irrelevant. Furthermore, the earlier patent suggests multiple frequent dosages which teaches away from the present invention. The commissioner did not find these arguments persuasive and still considered it would be have been obvious to try.

The Opposer considered the experimental evidence as totally anticipated by persons of the art and that there was nothing surprising in it.

The cut and thrust of the parties is reported in depth, but the general tendency of the Commissioner is to uphold the ruling in IL109059 F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG vs. AGIS Industries (1983) LTD from 17.10.2004 that it would have been obvious -to-try.

“First a route may still be an obvious one to try even if it is not possible to be sure that taking it will produce success, or sufficient success to make it commercially worthwhile.” (Brugger v. Medic-Aid Ltd., [1996] R.P.C 635 at 661)

“… Whether the subject matter was obvious may depend upon whether it was obvious to try in the circumstances of that particular case and in those circumstances it will be necessary to take into account the expectation of achieving a good result. But that does not mean that in every case the decision whether a claimed invention was obvious can be determined by deciding whether there was reasonable expectation that a person might get a good result from trying a particular avenue research. Each case depends upon the invention and the surrounding facts. No formula should be substituted for the words of the statute. In every case the court has to weight up the evidence and decide whether the invention was obvious. This is the statutory task.” (Norton Healthcare v. Beecham Group Plc, CA, (1997)) ([2004] R.P.C. 43 at para 42)

Consequently, the claimed invention was found to be obvious and the Opposition was accepted.

Opposition by Teva to IL 136294 Pharmacia and Upjohn, Assa Kling, 30 September 2014.

COMMENTS

I am neither a pharmacologist nor an urologist, (although I do enjoy taking the $%*& against poor decisions occasionally). It is established that the standard of inventiveness of obvious to try. Both sides accept (at least tacitly) that when taking tolterodine, once the problem of dry mouth is addressed, it would be obvious to try a slow release formulation, so the solution is fairly obvious. The question remains whether identification of the problem as a problem is worthy of a patent. Here the pro-pharma lobby will stand on their chairs and wave banners that of course this is patentable, whereas the generic side of the industry will have serious reservations. This may not just be a question of who pays one’s bills. It is at least possible that attorneys and scientists with different philosophies get drawn to the different market sectors that reflect their look on life.

Having a general background in chemistry but no background in pharmacology I tend to side with the generic industry. I suspect that most impartial patent attorneys with backgrounds in computing or engineering would find the Applicant’s arguments tortuous and unconvincing.

One question not addressed is why they chose to try to develop a controlled release version if there was no a priori assumption of it being preferable? (If the answer is ever-greening, is this acceptable, or is it obvious to try to keep a drug patent protected indefinitely?

Arguably the standard of obvious to try is to high, but it is the standard that Dr Meir Noam, the previous commissioner set. He was a chemist.

The present commissioner, Asa Kling is an aeronautical engineer.  He is no more a person of the art than I am. Nevertheless, his position as commissioner requires him to decide who the person of the art is, what is the standard for inventiveness and particularly whether identifying the issue of this side effect is in and of itself an inventive step. Really the issue is one of policy. The drug development industry will no doubt cry out that the Israeli standard is too high, whilst the generic industry will be more supportive of this ruling. If this ruling is appealed to the courts, the Commissioner’s determination will be scrutinized.

 


Laches in Amending Claims During a Patent Opposition Procedure

October 19, 2014

Zometa

Novartis Pharma filed Israel Patent Number 153229 titled “Use of 1-Hydroxy – 2 – (Imadazol-1-YL) Ethane – 1, 1 – Diphosphonic Acid in the Preparation of A Medicament for the Treatment of Conditions of Abnormally Increased Bone Turnover”.

The Application was allowed and published for Opposition purposes on 24 July 2007, and Teva filed an opposition on 23 October 2007.

After the Opposer filed their statement of case, the Applicant requested to correct the specification. The Opposer did not oppose the amendment, but following it, filed an amended statement of case. During 2011 and 2012 the opposition proceeded. On 10 April 2014 the applicant requested to amend the specification a second time. The amendment consisted of canceling claim 1 and dependent claims 2-5 and amending claims 6 and 7. The basis for the amendment was that the UK court had voided the corresponding patent, allegedly on formalistic and technical grounds, but to forward the discussion in Israel, the Applicant wanted to  amend the specification by canceling these claims.

Teva opposed the amendment, arguing laches and inequitable behavior since it was years since they’d filed their statement of case. They further claimed that the UK court had voided the patent due to the priority date and not on formalistic grounds. The UK Court of First Instance had issued their ruling over a year earlier, and this should be taken into account when considering the request to amend the application. This consideration was strengthened by the Opposition to Israel Patent 324844 Gradstan LTD vs Bristol Myers Squibb (6 March 1979). Furthermore, the request to amend the claims was not supported by an affidavit, and this was further grounds for refusing the request.

Novartis counter-claimed that the Appeal to the UK Supreme Court had only issued on 10 July 2014 and therefore there were no laches or inequitable behavior. Furthermore, if an affidavit was required, the applicant would be happy to provide one.

Teva countered that the flaws requiring correction were stated in the statement of case and Novartis should have corrected their application at the first opportunity which was over four years earlier.

THE RULING

The main argument is whether there is a statute of limitations or laches for amending a specification after allowance and before grant. The Opposer cited a very old case from 1979 to argue that this couldn’t be allowed, whereas the applicant cited the more recent Opposition to IL 101537 Merck and Co. vs. Unipharm Inc. (30 April 2003).

The Deputy Commissioner noted that she had ruled on the grounds for post allowance amendments under Sections 29, 65 and 66 f the Law in Reva vs. Astellas Pharma and in Rafael vs. Elta, both from May 2014.

The ability to amend the claims provides an advantage to the applicant, but it also results in side skirmishes that hold up the issuance of the patent, to the advantage of the opposer and to the detriment of the applicant.

In this instance, the request to amend the claims comes after the submission of evidence, at the stage of the hearing. However, this was justified by the UK ruling only now being made final.

Nevertheless, the request could have been made some months ago and wasn’t. No explanation was given. Although the ongoing Opposition prevents a patent from issuing (and being enforceable), it also provides uncertainty to competitors and the awarding costs only partially mitigates this.

The Gradstan case was exceptional in that five years had passed from when the applicant knew that the specification should be amended and, according to the then commissioner (Yoel Tsur?) the proposed amendment did not achieve its purpose.

In Merck vs. Unipharm the then commissioner (presumably Dr Meir Noam) ruled that even where there is a delay, the applicant should be able to amend the specification unless there is inequitable behavior or the applicant had previously fought tooth and nail for the wider claim set.

The Applicant’s reason for the delay (pending final ruling in the UK) is prima facie justification to wait until now. Hence, the delay is a matter of months, not four years and awarding costs is a fair way to compensate the Opposer.

There is no argument that the amendment is one that narrows the scope of protection since claims 1-5 are canceled and claims 6 and 7 are also narrowed since they specify a range of doses for menopausal women and the amended ranges are within the original ranges. The amended claims are also both fully supported by the specification.

As to the requirement for an affidavit, Ms Bracha ruled that this is required to support a factual matter about which there is some dispute. In this matter, that is not the case. Both sides agree when the original UK ruling was and when the Appeal ruling made it final.

CONCLUSION

The requested amendment is allowed and will publish for third-party oppositions. Absent such oppositions, the Opposer may file a corrected statement of claims within one month. If he does not wish to correct the statement of claims, he should alert the patent office of this within that month, and a hearing will be scheduled to examine the evidence.

Since this is the second request to correct the application and was filed some months after it transpired that there was a need to amend the claims, the Deputy Commissioner ruled costs of 3000 Shekels and attorneys fees of 30,000 Shekels + VAT. Furthermore, should the Opposer choose to amend their statement of case and to correct their evidence, they will be entitled to further costs regardless of the ultimate outcome of the proceedings

COMMENT

The active ingredient seems to be Zoledronic acid and the drug in question appears to be Zometa®.

This ruling seems fair.

Refusing to allow a patent to be amended due to the request not being supported by an affidavit seems to me to be formalistic. I would not consider a problem with the priority date as merely formalistic though.


Jerusalem Post Publishes Write-Up on Teva System for Better Prescribing

June 16, 2014

drug variability

Former Employee and patent attorney Dr Moshe Treitel sent me a link to an article in the Jerusalem Post that describes a technology that Teva has developed for better diagnosing. See here for more details.

Quoting Judy Itzkovich’s article:

“As the average Israeli 65 years and older now takes seven different medications for chronic illness, the danger of drug conflicts and complications is high.
In this country, adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are responsible for 4.1 percent of all hospital admissions, while it is 5.7% in Germany, 6.5% in Britain and a whopping 12% in Australia.”

The system, developed by Dr Ronni Shiloh, attempts to minimize adverse drug-drug interactions and to correct doses for specific patients by providing the doctor with a simple graphic interface or GUI on a smartphone or tablet, that summarizes a wealth of medical information in a simple and easy to comprehend graphical interface.

Drug interactions are a major cause of complications, particularly in the elderly. This product may save unneccessary hospitalization and expensive testing, to the benefit of patients, health funds and the Health Ministry alike.

 גילוי נאות – Full Disclosure

I drafted the patent application for Teva and am prosecuting it in various jurisdictions. They out-sourced to me, since despite being Israel’s largest IP firm (that’s Teva, not IP Factor!),  their extensive in-house patent capability is mostly pharmaceutical and molecular biology, whereas this is a computer based system.


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