Senators want probe of Allergan transfer deal with tribe: letter

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Senators want probe of Allergan transfer deal with tribe: letter

Published at Wed, 27 Sep 2017 22:13:20 +0000

Generic drug companies often seek to challenge brand-name drug patents through administrative proceedings, which are quicker and cheaper than court litigation. Allergan has said it would not invoke the tribe’s immunity in federal court.

Allergan said in an emailed response that it met last week with the staffs of Senators Brown and Hassan to provide briefings on the agreement.
On Friday, the tribe claimed this immunity in an ongoing administrative proceeding brought by generic drugmakers led by Mylan NV (MYL.O), which are seeking to invalidate Allergan’s patents to present cheaper versions of Restasis into the marketplace.

Some patent lawyers have noticed that the patent board has recognized the immunity of state entities and tribal immunity is considered to be an even stronger defense.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Anthony Lin

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The tribe and company have said that the tribe’s sovereign status protects the patents from inspection by the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative court empowered to invalidate patents.
Mylan has called Allergan’s deal with the tribe a “sham transaction” and said the tribe shouldn’t be allowed to invoke immunity to prevent administrative review.

Allergan said on Sept. 8 that it had been transferring patents on its dry eye medication Restasis to upstate New York’s Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, which agreed to exclusively license them back to the company in exchange for continuing payments.

(Reuters) – Four U.S. senators have asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation into a bargain drugmaker Allergan Plc (AGN.N) struck with a Native American tribe to shield some of its patents from generic challenge, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Democrats Maggie Hassan, Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey and Richard Blumenthal in the letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday called Allergan’s agreement “a blatantly anti-competitive effort to protect its patents from inspection and keep drug prices high.”
“We would welcome the opportunity to present additional briefings for these Senators, in addition to the opportunity to brief Senators Casey and Blumenthal, and answer any queries they might have,” Allergan said in the email.