Pfizer vows to take Lyrica case to Supreme Court
Pfizer intends to continue its legal battle with generics manufacturer Actavis over the use of pregabalin to treat pain all the way to the UK’s Supreme Court, the pharma giant has announced.
Last week, Pfizer told C+D it will take the step after the Court of Appeal upheld last year’s High Court decision that its patent for pregabalin – the active ingredient of its anticonvulsant Lyrica – for treating certain kinds of pain was “invalid”.
Pfizer took Actavis to court in 2015 over Lecaent – the latter’s generic pregabalin capsules that are sold as an anxiety and epilepsy treatment, Actavis told C+D.
Pfizer objected to Lecaent on the grounds that it would inevitably be used to treat pain, Actavis added.
The judge, Richard David Arnold, who made the High Court ruling in September 2015, was also critical of Pfizer’s enforcement of its patent.
In his written ruling, Mr Justice Arnold said some of Pfizer’s actions to stop Lecaent being prescribed and dispensed – for example, sending a letter to superintendent pharmacists in December 2014 – amounted to making “groundless threats” of taking legal action for patent infringement.
Pfizer’s patent for pregabalin to treat anxiety disorders and epilepsy has expired. But its patent covering its use for pain relief is not due to expire until July 2017.
Pfizer said it is “disappointed” by the Court of Appeal’s ruling last week, which also found its patents relating to some forms of pain are invalid. But it highlighted that the ruling means pregabalin’s patent for treating certain types of pain – including “acute herpetic, post-herpetic and causalgia pain” – still stands.
Pfizer said it will ask NHS England to update its prescribing guidance for pregabalin to reflect this.
“Pfizer maintains its strong belief in the validity and importance of the second medical use patent for the use of Lyrica in pain and intends to seek permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court,” it said in a statement.
Tim Powell, of Powell and Gilbert, who represented Actavis during the hearing, welcomed the Court of Appeal’s ruling as a “pragmatic way forward”.