Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues

. Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Wendy H. Schacht Specialist in Science and Technology Policy John R. Thomas Visiting Scholar January 6, 2010 Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL33901 CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Summary Biologics, which are sometimes termed biopharmaceutials or biotechnology drugs, have begun to play an increasingly important role in U.S. health care. Not only are sales of biologics growing rapidly, some experts estimate that in coming years half of all newly approved drugs will result from biotechnology. A number of patents pertaining to certain biological products will expire in the near future. Some congressional concern has been voiced over the possibility that these patent expirations may not be accompanied by the introduction of competing, lower-cost biologics in the marketplace. With respect to traditional pharmaceuticals, the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, a statute commonly known as the “Hatch-Waxman Act,” is widely believed to have encouraged the availability of generic substitutes for brand-name pharmaceuticals upon patent expiration. The Act in part permitted the Food and Drug Administration to expedite its marketing approval proceedings with respect to generic drugs. Some observers believe that the Hatch-Waxman Act’s accelerated marketing approval provisions do not comfortably apply to biologics, however. Biologics differ significantly from traditional small-molecule pharmaceuticals in their size, structural complexity, and method of manufacture. Competitors who wish to develop follow-on biologics may face difficult, and even insurmountable difficulties in demonstrating that their product is equivalent to a particular brandname biologic. Other commentators assert that different kinds of biologics vary considerably in their size and structure, and believe that existing Hatch-Waxman mechanisms are appropriately applied to many biologics. The patent system also plays a role in regulating competition in the biologics market. Patent protection is available for biologics in many circumstances, although the scope of protection may be limited by legal principles that restrict the availability of proprietary rights in naturally occurring substances. In the 111th Congress, H.R. 3962 (passed by the House on November, 14, 2009) and H.R. 3590 (passed by the Senate on December 24, 2009), as well as S. 1679, H.R. 3200, H.R. 1427, S. 726, and H.R. 1548, while varying in details, would create an expedited marketing approval pathway for follow-on biologics within the Public Health Service Act. These bills also would establish specialized patent dispute resolution proceedings with respect to these products. Data and market exclusivity periods for innovator drugs and follow-on products are also created. Congressional Research Service . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Contents Introduction ................................................................................................................................1 Expedited Marketing Approval Issues .........................................................................................4 Expedited Marketing Approval for Pharmaceuticals ..............................................................4 Application to Biologics........................................................................................................6 Legislative Initiatives ............................................................................................................9 Intellectual Property Issues........................................................................................................ 10 Patent Protection for Biologics ............................................................................................ 10 The Hatch-Waxman Act, Intellectual Property, and Biologics .............................................. 12 Data Exclusivities ............................................................................................................... 13 Legislative Activity............................................................................................................. 14 Innovation Issues ...................................................................................................................... 19 Patents and Innovation ........................................................................................................ 20 Role of Patents in Pharmaceutical R&D .............................................................................. 21 Clinical Trials ..................................................................................................................... 23 Manufacturing Considerations............................................................................................. 23 Marketing Concerns............................................................................................................ 25 Additional Observations...................................................................................................... 25 Tables Table 1. Proprietary Rights-Related Provisions of H.R. 3962 and H.R. 3590.............................. 18 Contacts Author Contact Information ...................................................................................................... 27 Acknowledgments .................................................................................................................... 27 Congressional Research Service . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Introduction Longstanding congressional interest in the availability and cost of pharmaceuticals has focused attention upon the increasingly significant class of drugs known as “biologics.”1 Observers agree that the biologics market is rapidly expanding by any number of measures, including the quantity of approved products, the size of the market, and the importance of these drugs to the health of U.S. citizens. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued marketing approval on 36 biotechnology drugs in 2002; it also approved 37 in the following year, 40 in 2004, 38 in 2005, and 36 in 2006.2 While the number of approvals declined in 2007, and remained below previous years in 2008,3 many more new biologics reportedly are in the pipeline and/or in the approval process.4 Today, 20% of the drugs on the market are biologics.5 Federico Polliano, head of business development at BioGeneriX, a biotechnology company, projects that 50% of approved pharmaceuticals in 2010 will be the result of biotechnology.6 Dramatic growth in the number of approved drugs has been accompanied by a similar expansion in sales. IMS Health, a consulting firm, found that in 2005, the size of the U.S. biologics market was on the order of $52 billion. According to its analysis, the biologics market grew at a rate of 17%, greater than any other portion of the pharmaceutical market. 7 Some experts further project that the global biologics market will expand to $67 billion by 2010.8 Awareness of the increasing importance of biopharmaceuticals has been accompanied by an appreciation that patents covering many of these products will soon expire. Andrew Forman of WR Hambrecht concludes, for example, that $20 billion in biotech drugs worldwide will be off patent by 2010.9 1 The term “biologic” has been described as “poorly defined,” and its precise parameters are themselves subject to debate. See David M. Dudzinski, “Reflections on Historical, Scientific, and Legal Issues Relevant to Designing Approval Pathways for Generic Versions of Recombinant Protein-Based Therapeutics and Monoclonal Antibodies,” 60 Food and Drug Law Journal (2005), 143. The Public Health Service defines the term “biological product” to mean “a virus, therapeutic serum, toxin, antitoxin, vaccine, blood, blood component or derivative, allergenic product, or analogous product, or arsphenamine or derivative of arsphenamine (or any other trivalent organic arsenic compound), applicable to the prevention, treatment, or cure of a disease or condition of human beings.” 42 U.S.C. § 262(i) (2006). Biologics are also sometimes termed “biotechnology drugs” or “biopharmaceuticals.” Dudzinski at 143. 2 Biotechnology Industry Organization, available at http://www.bio.org and Ernst & Young, Beyond Borders, Global Biotechnology Report 2007, 25. 3 PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Biotech, Lifting Big Pharma’s prospects with biologics, May 2009, 7, available at http://www.pwc.com/extweb/industry.nsf/docid/5C4FDB15B185FE39802575C400271BD9/$File/biotech-final.pdf. 4 Kerry A. Dolan, “Biology Rising,” Forbes.com, May 12, 2006, available at http://www.forbes.com/2006/05/12/ merck-pfizer-amgen-cz_kd_0512biologics_print.html. 5 Ernst & Young, Beyond Borders, Global Biotechnology Report 2008, http://www.ey.com/Global/assets.nsf/ International/Industry_Biotechnology_Beyond_Borders_2008/$file/Biotechnology_Beyond_Borders_2008.pdf. 6 “Biogenerics: A Difficult Birth?” IMS Global Insights, available at http://www.imshealth.com. 7 Nicole Gray, “Harbingers of Change,” Pharmaceutical Executive, May 2005, available at http://www.imshealth.com; Nicole Gray, “Keeping Pace with the Evolving Pharmaceutical Business Model,” Pharmaceutical Executive, May 2006, available at http://www.imshealth.com. 8 Ramsey Baghdadi, “Biogenerics Are Happening: Slowly, Product-By-Product,” The RPM Report, January 2006, available at http://www.theRPMreport.com. 9 Aaron Smith, “Barr’s Risky $2.5 Billion Bid for Biogenerics,” CNNMoney.com, September 15, 2006. See also Research and Markets, “The Biogenerics Market Outlook: An Analysis of Market Dynamics, Growth Drivers and Leading Players,” Business Wire, September 12, 2005, available at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_mOEIN/ is_2005_Sept_12/ai_n15382946/print. Congressional Research Service 1 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Estimates vary on the number of biologics that will lose patent protection in the next several years and the amount of sales these products represent. One study notes that “between 2009 and 2019 21 blockbuster biopharmaceuticals with a total market value of over 50 billion $US will lose patent protection.”10 Analysis by FierceBiotech estimates that biologics worth $25 billion in sales will lose patent protection by 2016.11 A report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers notes that between 2002 and 2013, the expiration of patents on blockbuster biopharmaceutical products will lead to an average loss of $16.4 billion in sales.12 Among the biotechnology drugs that are expected to go off patent between 2008 and 2010 are Genotropin, NovoSeven, BeneFIX, Infergen, and Humira ($455,911,000 in 2008 sales by retail dollars13).14 Patents on Avonex ($273,303,000 in 2008 sales by retail dollars15) and Enbrel ($ 763,927,000 in 2008 sales by retail dollars16) are also expected to expire in the next several years.17 Some commentators have expressed concerns that patent expirations may not be accompanied by the introduction of competing, lower-cost biologics in the marketplace.18 In the traditional pharmaceutical market, generic substitutes commonly become available to consumers as patents on brand-name drugs expire due to the provisions of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, a statute commonly known as the “Hatch-Waxman Act.”19 This legislation introduced several significant changes to both the patent law and the food and drug law established by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. Among them were expedited marketing approval pathways that eliminated, in whole or in part, the need for firms to conduct expensive and time-consuming clinical trials when they bring generic equivalents of brand-name drugs to market.20 The Hatch-Waxman amendments were designed to facilitate the rapid introduction of lower-cost generic drugs, while at same time promoting innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.21 Technical factors may limit the effectiveness of the Hatch-Waxman amendments to biologics, however. Biologics differ significantly from traditional pharmaceuticals in their complexity and method of manufacture. Typical pharmaceutical products consist of small molecules, on the order of dozens of atoms, that may be readily characterized and reproduced through well-understood 10 Parexel Consulting, Follow-on Biologics, availabe at http://www.parexelconsulting.com/services/follow-onbiologics.html. 11 FierceBiotech, The Top 10 Biosimilar Players: Positioning, performance and SWOT analyses, Aprile 20, 2009, available at http://www.fiercebiotech.com/research/top-10-biosimilar-players-positioning-performance-and-swotanalyses. 12 PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Biotech: Lifting Big Pharma’s prospects with biologics, 2009, p. 9, available at http://www.pwc.com/en_GX/gx/pharma-life-sciences/pdf/biotech-final.pdf. 13 “2008 Top 200 branded drugs by retail dollars,” Drug Topics, 2009 available at http://www.drugtopics.com. 14 Ed Lamb, Patent Expirations Could Mean Biologics Competition, Pharmacy Times, March 1, 2008, available at http://www.pharmacytimes.com/issue/pharmacy/2008/2008-03/2008-03-8430. 15 “2008 Top 200 branded drugs by retail dollars,” op. cit. 16 Id. 17 Thomas Gryta, “Generic Biologics Face Hurdles, The Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2009 available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123614292238326905.html. 18 See Dudzinski, supra. 19 P.L. 84-417, 98 Stat. 1585 (1984). 20 See 21 U.S.C. § 355(b)(2) (2006) (with respect to § 505(b)(2) applications); id. § 355(j)(1) (with respect to ANDAs). 21 See John R. Thomas, Pharmaceutical Patent Law (Bureau of National Affairs, 2005) and CRS Report RL30756, Patent Law and Its Application to the Pharmaceutical Industry: An Examination of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (“The Hatch-Waxman Act”), by Wendy H. Schacht and John R. Thomas. Congressional Research Service 2 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues chemical processes. In contrast, biologics are often made up of millions of atoms, feature a more complex structure than traditional pharmaceuticals, and are manufactured from living cells through biological processes. 22 As a result, the technical challenges that a competitor faces in developing a product that may be viewed as equivalent to a particular brand-name biologic product may be considerable, and in some cases perhaps even insurmountable. 23 For this reason, many experts do not describe competing biologic products as “generics,” as is the case for a small-molecule pharmaceuticals; the terms “follow-on biologic” or “biosimilar” are commonly used instead.24 Some commentators assert that these technical challenges may also mean that the expedited approval pathways available under the Hatch-Waxman Act do not comfortably apply to biologics most of which are approved under provisions of the Public Health Services Act (PHS Act). Because the complexity of biologics is an order of magnitude greater than that associated with pharmaceuticals, they say, an expedited marketing approval protocol would not ensure patient safety to the degree possible with respect to traditional drugs.25 Others observe that different kinds of biologics vary considerably in their size and structure, and believe that existing HatchWaxman mechanisms provide appropriate regulatory oversight for less complex biologics and also should be extended to those biologics approved under the PHS Act. These observers further explain that as scientific knowledge progresses, understanding of biologics will increase, thereby allowing expanded use of current procedures. 26 FDA marketing approval is not the only gatekeeper to competition in the biologics market. The patent system also has a role to play. Although patent protection may be available for biologics in many circumstances, these patents may be limited by legal principles that restrict proprietary rights in naturally occurring substances. 27 Further, although key patents on many biologics are set to expire, other products may potentially remain protected by patents for many years to come. In recognition that the public possesses an interest in prompt challenges to drug patents that are believed to have been improvidently granted, the Hatch-Waxman Act introduced incentives for firms to bring such challenges along with special procedures for resolving them in the courts.28 This report reviews doctrinal and policy issues pertaining to follow-on biologics. The report first introduces the application of federal food and drug legislation to follow-on biologics. It next turns to the patent implications of marketing follow-on biologics. Following this review of substantive law, the remainder of the report introduces innovation policy issues pertaining to follow-on biologics. 22 See Melissa R. Leuenberger-Fisher, “The Road to Follow On Biologics: Are We There Yet?,” 23 Biotechnology Law Report (August 2004), 389. 23 See Dawn Willow, “The Regulation of Biologic Medicine: Innovators’ Rights and Access to Healthcare,” 6 ChicagoKent Journal of Intellectual Property (2006), 32. 24 Id. 25 See Dudzinski, supra (noting such concerns). 26 See Narinder S. Banait, Follow-on Biological Products—Legal Issues, 2005, available at http://www.fenwick.com/ docstore/Publications/IP/follow-on.pdf. 27 See, e.g, J.E.M. Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred Int’l, Inc., 534 U.S. 124, 130 (2001) (explaining patent law principle that “products of nature” are not eligible for patenting, but that patents may be available for “human-made inventions” resulting from the use of biotechnology). 28 See Thomas, supra note 11. Congressional Research Service 3 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Expedited Marketing Approval Issues Efforts to speed approval of follow-on biologics have been based upon the Hatch-Waxman Act.29 Enacted in 1984, that statute amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDC Act) in part by introducing two regulatory pathways allowing for the expedited marketing approval of generic pharmaceuticals. Many policy and industry experts agree that the Hatch-Waxman Act has significantly effected the availability of generic substitutes for brand name, small molecule drugs.30 Generics are often rapidly available after patent expiration, commonly at lower prices than the brand-name original. Concurrently, given the increasing investment in research and development (R&D) and the gains in research intensity of the pharmaceutical industry, it appears that the 1984 Act has not deterred the search for, and the development of, new drugs.31 At issue is whether the existing Hatch-Waxman Act protocols, or a similar construct created through new legislation, could be effectively implemented for follow-on biologics. The difficulty characterizing biologics, along with the importance of manufacturing techniques to the final product, have created debate around the applicability of expedited marketing approval mechanisms for these products. This report next describes issues pertaining to the accelerated marketing approval of follow-on biologics. Expedited Marketing Approval for Pharmaceuticals The FDC Act has, since 1962, prohibited the marketing of a “new drug” unless that drug meets certain safety and efficacy standards. Sponsors of new drugs must submit, among other documents, a New Drug Application (NDA) demonstrating that these standards have been met in order to obtain marketing approval. A typical NDA is a complex, lengthy document that presents clinical data; chemistry, manufacturing and controls; nonclinical pharmacology and toxicology; safety update reports; and other salient information.32 Brand-name drug companies commonly devote considerable resources, over many years, to complete the studies necessary to submit a NDA. Prior to the passage of the Hatch-Waxman Act, the federal food and drug law contained no separate provisions addressing generic versions of drugs that had previously been approved. 33 The result was that a would-be generic drug manufacturer most often had to file its own NDA in order to market its drug.34 Some generic manufacturers were forced to prove independently that the drugs were safe and effective, even though their products were chemically identical to those of previously approved drugs. Some commentators believed that the approval of a generic drug was 29 P.L. 84-417, 98 Stat. 1585 (1984). For additional information see CRS Report RL30756, Patent Law and Its Application to the Pharmaceutical Industry: An Examination of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (“The HatchWaxman Act”), by Wendy H. Schacht and John R. Thomas, and CRS Report RL32377, The Hatch-Waxman Act: Legislative Changes Affecting Pharmaceutical Patents, by Wendy H. Schacht and John R. Thomas. 31 Id. 32 See Apotex Inc. v. FDA, 393 F.3d 210, 212 (D.C. Cir. 2004). 30 33 See Alfred B. Engelberg, “Special Patent Provisions for Pharmaceuticals: Have They Outlived Their Usefulness?” 39 IDEA: J. L. & TECH. 389, 396 (1999). 34 See James J. Wheaton, “Generic Competition and Pharmaceutical Innovation: The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984,” 34 CATH. UNIV. L. REV. 433, 439 (1986). Congressional Research Service 4 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues a needlessly costly, duplicative, and time-consuming process prior to the Hatch-Waxman Act.35 These observers noted that although patents on important drugs had expired, manufacturers were not moving to introduce generic equivalents for these products due to the level of resource expenditure required to obtain FDA marketing approval.36 In response to this concern, the Hatch-Waxman Act created two new types of applications for marketing approval of a generic pharmaceutical. One is termed an “Abbreviated New Drug Application” (ANDA). 37 An ANDA may be filed, generally speaking, if the active ingredient, route of administration, the dosage form, and the strength of the new drug are the same as those of the approved drug. An ANDA allows a generic drug manufacturer to rely upon the safety and efficacy data of the original manufacturer. The availability of an ANDA typically permits a generic manufacturer to avoid the costs and delays associated with filing a full-fledged NDA. ANDAs also allow a generic manufacturer, in many cases, to place its FDA-approved bioequivalent drug on the market as soon as any relevant patents expire.38 The Hatch-Waxman Act also authorized a so-called “§ 505(b)(2) application.” A § 505(b)(2) application is one for which one or more of the investigations relied upon by the generic applicant for approval “were not conducted by or for the applicant and for which the applicant has not obtained a right of reference or use from the person by or for whom the investigations were conducted.... ”39 A § 505(b)(2) application differs from an ANDA in that it includes full reports of investigations concerning the safety and effectiveness of the proposed product. However, a § 505(b)(2) application is distinct from an NDA in that the § 505(b)(2) application relies upon data that the applicant did not develop. 40 According to the FDA, a § 505(b)(2) applicant can rely upon two sources of studies “not conducted by or for the applicant and for which the applicant has not obtained a right of reference.”41 The first source consists of safety and efficacy analysis based upon data that the applicant did not originate itself and does not enjoy an express permission to access. This category of information typically consists of published scientific literature. As a result, § 505(b)(2) applications are sometimes referred to as “paper NDAs.” With respect to the second source of appropriate information, the FDA has declared that a § 505(b)(2) applicant may rely upon that agency’s own finding of safety and effectiveness for an 35 See, e.g., Justina A. Molzon, “The Generic Drug Approval Process,” 5 J. PHARM. & L. 275, 276 (1996) (“The Act streamlined the approval process by eliminating the need for [generic drug] sponsors to repeat duplicative, unnecessary, expensive and ethically questionable clinical and animal research to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the drug product.”). 36 See Jonathon M. Lave, “Responding to Patent Litigation Settlements: Does the FTC Have It Right Yet?” 64 U. PITT. L. REV. 201, 202 (2002) (“Hatch-Waxman has also increased the generic drug share of prescription drug volume by almost 130% since its enactment in 1984. Indeed, nearly 100% of the top selling drugs with expired patents have generic versions available today versus only 35% in 1983.”). 37 21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(1) (2006). 38 See, e.g., Sarah E. Eurek, “Hatch-Waxman Reform and Accelerated Entry of Generic Drugs: Is Faster Necessarily Better?” 2003 DUKE L. & TECH. REV. 18 (August 13, 2003). 39 21 U.S.C. § 355(b)(2) (2004). The name of this application refers to its section number within the Hatch-Waxman Act itself. This provision has been codified at 21 U.S.C. § 355(b)(2), where it may be more conveniently located. 40 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), Guidance for Industry: Applications Covered by Section 505(b)(2) at 2-3 (October 1999) [hereinafter “Section 505(b)(2) Guidance”]. 41 Id. Congressional Research Service 5 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues approved drug.42 The FDA’s conclusion allows applicants that wish to market a modification of an approved drug to file a § 505(b)(2) application rather than a full NDA. For example, suppose that an approved drug employed an active ingredient with a particular salt formulation. A generic firm seeks to market a generic version of the approved drug with the same active moiety, but using a different salt formulation. 43 Under these circumstances, the generic firm may be unable to file an ANDA because its proposed active ingredient is not identical to that of the approved product.44 Due to the FDA’s view, however, the generic firm could file a § 505(b)(2) application that relied upon the FDA’s previous approval of the innovator drug, along with studies supporting the change in the salt formulation from the innovator drug.45 As may be appreciated, the availability of a § 505(b)(2) application likely leads to a substantial reduction in the costs of the generic firm in this case in comparison with the resources required to file a full NDA. The FDA interpretation of § 505(b)(2) regarding this second source of information has been criticized. Some observers believe that under a plain reading of the Hatch-Waxman Act, a generic applicant may rely upon an innovator’s proprietary data only when filing an ANDA application, not a § 505(b)(2) application. Under this view, the FDA position inappropriately expands the circumstances to which a § 505(b)(2) application applies.46 Despite this critique, the FDA has taken the position that its “approach is intended to encourage innovation in drug development without requiring duplicative studies to demonstrate what is already known about a drug while protecting the patent and exclusivity rights for the approved drug.”47 Application to Biologics The Hatch-Waxman Act, including its expedited approval pathways, may potentially apply to certain biologics. This result follows because the Hatch-Waxman Act in part amended the FDC Act, which in turn applies to “drugs.”48 The Hatch-Waxman Act did not amend a distinct statute, the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act), 49 which applies specifically to biological products and contains no provisions allowing expedited marketing approval for follow-on biologics. Because the definition of “drugs” under the FDC Act is broad, however, the FDA states that “[b]iological products subject to the PHS Act also meet the definition of drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”50 Under this interpretation, both expedited marketing approval pathways—the ANDA and the § 505(b)(2) application—could potentially be available for pharmaceuticals and biologics alike. 51 42 Id. See Pfizer, Inc. v. Dr. Reddy’s, 359 F.3d 1361, 69 USPQ2d 2016 (Fed. Cir. 2004). 44 37 C.F.R. § 314.93(b) (2004). 45 Section 505(b)(2) Guidance at 5. 46 See Bruce N. Kuhlik, “The Assault on Pharmaceutical Intellectual Property,” 71 U. CHI. L. REV. 93, 103-04 (2004). 47 Section 505(b)(2) Guidance at 3. 43 48 The FDC Act defines the term “drug” to include “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals.... ” 21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)(B). 49 P.L. 78-410, 58 Stat. 682 (1944). 50 U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, “Frequently Asked Questions About Therapeutic Biological Products”(available at http://www.fda.gov/cder/biologics/qa.htm). 51 Further discussion of this issue may be found at Willow, supra. Congressional Research Service 6 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Many observers believe that the possibility of employing an ANDA for a biologic is currently more theoretical than real, however, due to differences between this class of drugs and conventional pharmaceuticals. Two of the more significant differences are the increased complexity of biologics vis-à-vis pharmaceuticals, as well as the importance of the particular manufacturing process employed to produce a biologic. Food and drug lawyers have stated: Biologics differ significantly from traditional drugs in their size, complexity, structure, and method of manufacture. Drug products consist of small molecules, on the order of dozens of atoms synthesized from defined components according to a prescribed production method in an environment of manufacturing processes and controls. Biological products are much larger than drugs, made up of millions of atoms, and are manufactured from living cells through an elaborate process initiated by specifically programming a cell line to produce a certain protein in a highly controlled, sterile manufacturing environment.52 Characteristic properties of biologics include a very high molecular weight and high structural complexity, a heterogeneous molecular make-up, varying levels of hard-to-remove biological impurities (bacteria, viruses and the like) and a high degree of sensitivity to environmental conditions.53 These traits of biologics make the manufacturing process critical to the final product. It has been argued that “[t]he production process is 90 percent of the intellectual property related to the product.”54 In contrast to traditional drugs, which are manufactured by chemical synthesis,55 the production of biologics is more complex: [M]anufacturing biologics requires the nourishment and support of living host cells transfected with genetically engineered DNA to code for the desired biological protein that is expressed by the host cell. A master cell bank must be established, and host cells are cultured and fermented in large-scale bioreactors to produce commercial quantities of the desired protein.56 Not only are the characteristics of a biologic “clearly dependent on the process used to manufacture the product,” such information is ordinarily protected via trade secrets.57 As a result, some observers have opined that a “manufacturer would have great difficulty producing a followon protein that is identical to the innovator product.”58 The complexity of biological products and the importance of the particular manufacturing process used to produce them may make the showing that a follow-on product is the “same” as a 52 Gary C. Messplay and Colleen Heisey, “Follow-On Biologics: The Evolving Regulatory Landscape,” BioExecutive International, May 2006, 43. 53 Stephen B. Judlowe and Brian P. Murphy, Proposed Legislation for Follow-On Biologic Pharmaceuticals in the US, Morgan, Lewis & Backius, LLP, New York available at http://www.buildingipvalue.com/05_NA/135_138.htm. 54 Debra Weintraub, “Next Generation of Biopharmaceuticals,” Journal of Managed Care Medicine, vol. 9, no. 1, 2006, available at http://www.namcp.com/Journals/JMCM/Articles/ Next%20Generation%20of%20Biopharmaceuticals.pdf. 55 Henry Grabowski, Iain Cocburn, and Genia Long, “The Market For Follow-On Biologics: How Will It Evolve?,” Health Affairs, September/October 2006, 1292. 56 Judlowe & Murphy, supra note 44. 57 Bruce S. Manheim Jr., Patricia Granahan, and Kenneth J. Dow, “‘Follow-On Biologics’: Ensuring Continued Innovation In The Biotechnology Industry,” Health Affairs, March/April 2006, 397. 58 Id. Congressional Research Service 7 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues previously approved biologic difficult, if not impossible.59 Former Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford has explained that “because protein drug products are large, complex molecules, derived from biological sources, generally it has not been possible to assess relative sameness with a high degree of confidence.”60 Some observers have gone further, opining that true “generic” biologics cannot exist because they cannot be judged to be the “same”as the brandname product, a requirement that the Hatch-Waxman Act imposes with respect to an ANDA.61 Other commentators believe that scientific capabilities currently allow manufacturers to produce follow-on biologics that are safe and effective. 62 For example, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) strongly believes FDA’s current statutory structure would permit approvals and marketing of an array of generic biopharmaceuticals (also referred to as ‘biologics’) with relatively low to moderate complexity, and to expand [sic] that system in the coming years to permit the approval of more complex products as the science evolves.63 Israel Makov, president and CEO of Teva, argues that biologic products can be adequately characterized and manufacturing processes do not necessarily affect the final drug.64 Similarly, Patrick Vink, Global Head of Biopharmaceuticals at Sandoz, maintains both that the science is in place to assess follow-on biologics appropriately, and that unnecessary clinical trials should not be mandatory. Instead, he advocates that bioequivalence testing should be required on a case-bycase basis.65 In this regard, some commentators have suggested that potential manufacturers of follow-on biologics employ § 505(b)(2) applications in appropriate cases. The statutory requirements for § 505(b)(2) applications do not require that the follow-on product be the “same” as the approved product. Rather, the applicant must provide clinical data demonstrating the follow-on product to be safe and effective, but may rely upon data generated by the brand-name firm itself, or by third parties. 66 The applicant must substantiate the “relevance and applicability” of previous findings to the follow-on product, however, and may need to supply clinical data to describe any relevant distinctions between the brand-name biologic and the follow-on product.67 It should be appreciated that some observers believe that § 505(b)(2) applications are inappropriate for biologics, however. For example, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has asserted that: 59 See Weintraub, supra note 45. Judlowe & Murphy, supra. 61 See Christopher Webster et al., “Biologics: Can There Be Abbreviated Applications, Generics, or Follow-On Products?,” International BioPharm (July 1, 2003) (available at http://www.biopharm-mag.com/biopharm/article/ articleDetail.jsp?id=73785). 62 Judlowe & Murphy, supra. 63 Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Generic Biopharmaceuticals, available at http://www.gphaonline.org. 64 Selena Class, “Biogenerics: Waiting for the Green Light,” IMS Global Insights, October 28, 2004 (available at http://www.imshealth.com). 65 Id. 66 Narinder S. Banait, “Follow-on Biological Products—Legal Issues” (2005) (available at http://www.fenwick.com). 67 21 U.S.C. § 355(b)(2) (2006). 60 Congressional Research Service 8 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Approval of follow-on biotechnology products must be based on the same rigorous standards applied by the FDA for the approval of pioneer biotechnology products.... Currently, the science does not exist to provide an alternative to a full complement of data, including clinical evidence, to demonstrate safety and effectiveness for follow-on biotechnology products.... Therefore, in the current state of scientific knowledge and technique, a clinical trial remains a fundamental principle for evaluating the safety and effectiveness of a followon biotechnology product.68 Legislative Initiatives In the 111th Congress various bills have been introduced that would create an expedited approval process for follow-on biologics.69 H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, as passed by the House on November 14, 2009, and H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as passed by the Senate on December 24, 2009, as well as S. 1679, the Affordable Health Choices Act; H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009; and H.R. 1548, the Pathway for Biosimilars Act, mandate that a follow-on biologic may be designated as either a “biosimilar” or an “interchangeable” product. In general, a follow-on product is biosimilar if (1) analytical, animal, and clinical studies show that it is highly similar to the reference product, notwithstanding minor differences in clinically inactive components, (2) the two products have the same mechanism of action, (3) the condition of use in the proposed product has been previously approved for the reference product, (4) the route of administration, dosage form, and strength of the two products are the same, and (5) the manufacturing process provides for a safe product. A follow-on biologic is interchangeable if (1) it can be expected to product the same clinical result as the reference product in any given patient and (2) the risk, in terms of safety or diminished efficacy or switching between the two products, is not greater than the use of the reference product without such alternation.70 H.R. 1427 and S. 726, both titled the Promoting Innovation and Access to Life-Saving Medicine Act, establish an expedited process for a biosimilar when “no clinically meaningful differences between the biological product and the reference product would be expected in terms of the safety, purity, and potency if treatment were to be initiated with the biological product instead of the reference product.” A designation of “interchangeable” can be made if the follow-on product is determined to be biosimilar and can be switched one or more times with the original biologic without “an expected increase in the risk of adverse effects.... ” The Secretary of Health and Human Services can issue a “biosimiliar biological product license” if the information provided meets the criteria established in the legislation, and determined to be necessary by the Secretary including (1) similar molecular structural features; (2) clinical and non-clinical studies indicating saftey, purity, and potency; (3) previous approval of the reference product; (4) same route of administration, dosage form, and strength as the original biologic; and (5) safe manufacture facilities, among other things.71 68 Biotechnology Industry Organization, Follow-on Biotechnology Products (available at http://www.bio.org/ healthcare/followon/). 69 For additional information, see CRS Report RL34045, FDA Regulation of Follow-On Biologics, by Judith A. Johnson. 70 H.R. 1548 at § 101(a) 71 H.R. 1427 at § 3(a), S. 726 at § 3(a) Congressional Research Service 9 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Intellectual Property Issues Patent Protection for Biologics As with pharmaceuticals, biologics may be subject to patent protection provided certain conditions are met.72 An award of marketing approval by the FDA and the grant of a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are distinct events that depend upon different criteria. FDA procedures determine whether the drug is sufficiently safe and effective to be marketed. In contrast, the USPTO grants patents on inventions that fulfill requirements established by the Patent Act of 1952, including utility, novelty, and nonobviousness. 73 Because patent proprietors may be able to block competitors during the term of the patent,74 these intellectual property rights also play a role in the marketplace availability of follow-on biologics. Although a complete review of the patent system exceeds the scope of this report, its basic contours may be concisely stated. The Patent Act allows inventors to obtain patents on processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter that are useful, novel and nonobvious.75 An invention is judged as useful if it is minimally operable towards some practical purpose.76 To be considered novel within the patent law, an invention must differ from existing references that disclose the state of the art, such as publications and other patents.77 The nonobviousness requirement is met if the invention is beyond the ordinary abilities of a skilled artisan knowledgeable in the appropriate field.78 In order to receive a patent, an inventor must file a patent application with the USPTO.79 Patent applications must include a specification that so completely describes the invention that skilled artisans are enabled to practice it without undue experimentation.80 The patent application must also contain distinct, definite claims that set out the proprietary interest asserted by the inventor.81 Trained personnel at the USPTO, known as examiners, review all applications to ensure that the invention described and claimed in the application fulfills the pertinent requirements of the patent law. If the USPTO believes that the application fulfills the statutory requirements, it will allow the application to issue as a granted patent.82 Each patent ordinarily enjoys a term of twenty years commencing from the date the patent application was filed.83 If the patent proprietor was unable 72 See CRS Report RL30648, An Examination of the Issues Surrounding Biotechnology Patenting and Its Effect Upon Entrepreneurial Companies, by John R. Thomas. 73 See 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 102, 103 (2006). 74 35 U.S.C. § 271(2006). 75 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 102, 103 (2006). 76 See Brenner v. Manson, 383 U.S. 519, 86 S.Ct. 1033, 16 L.Ed.2d 69 (1966). 77 35 U.S.C. § 102 (2006). 78 35 U.S.C. § 103(a) (2006). 79 35 U.S.C. § 111 (2006). 80 35 U.S.C. § 112 (2006). 81 35 U.S.C. § 112 (2006). 82 35 U.S.C. § 151 (2006). 83 35 U.S.C. § 154 (2006). Congressional Research Service 10 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues to market its product for a period of the patent term due to lack of approval by the FDA, the term may be extended by a portion of the regulatory review period in some circumstances. 84 Granted patents give the patentee the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing into the United States the patented invention. 85 Parties who engage in those acts without the permission of the patent proprietor during the term of the patent can be held liable for infringement. The patentee may file a civil suit in federal court in order to enjoin infringers and obtain monetary remedies.86 Although issued patents enjoy a presumption of validity, accused infringers may assert that the patent is invalid or unenforceable on a number of grounds.87 A few patent law principles have particular impact upon biologics. First, the courts have generally concluded that novel and nonobvious products and processes of biotechnology may be patented, notwithstanding the fact that the invention derives from the field of biochemistry or is itself a “living invention.” In Diamond v. Chakrabarty,88 for example, the Supreme Court held a genetically modified bacterium was patentable. The Court explained that the inventor’s “claim is not to a hitherto unknown natural phenomenon, but to a nonnaturally occurring manufacture or composition of matter—a product of human ingenuity ‘having a distinctive name, character [and] use.’”89 Biotechnology firms may at times confront the longstanding patent law principle that a naturally occurring substance may not be patented as such.90 For example, a scientist could not obtain a patent on a previously unknown plant that she discovered growing in the wild. A patent may be obtained once significant artificial changes are made to that natural substance, however. For example, a biological substance that is discovered in nature and isolated from its source may be subject to patent protection. Amgen’s Epogen®, a genetically engineered form of erythropoietin that combats anemia by encouraging the production of red blood cells, provides one example of a patented biologic.91 In addition, a patent may be available for a new process used to manufacture a known biologic.92 Suppose, for example, that a naturally occurring biological agent and its activity are already known to the state of the art. The contribution of the biotechnology firm is to develop a manufacturing process that allows for widespread, commercial use of that agent. In this scenario, the biotechnology firm may obtain a patent on the manufacturing process, but not upon the biological agent itself. It should be appreciated that the value of such a process patent will depend 84 35 U.S.C. § 156 (2006). 35 U.S.C. § 271(a) (2006). 86 35 U.S.C. § 281 (2006). 87 35 U.S.C. § 282 (2006). 88 473 U.S. 303 (1980). 89 Id. at 309-10. 90 See Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175, 185 (1980) (“Excluded from such patent protection are laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas.”). 85 91 U.S. Patent No. 5,955,422 (claiming in part “[a] pharmaceutical composition comprising a therapeutically effective amount of human erythropoietin and a pharmaceutically acceptable diluent, adjuvant or carrier, wherein said erythropoietin is purified from mammalian cells grown in culture.”). See also Amgen, Inc. v. Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc., 457 F.3d 1293 (Fed. Cir. 2006). 92 See Alix Weisfeld, “How Much Intellectual Property Protection Do the Newest (and Coolest) Biotechnologies Get Internationally?,” 6 Chicago Journal of International Law (2006), 833. Congressional Research Service 11 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues upon whether competitors will be able to employ a distinct manufacturing process in order to create a comparable final product. Because of the potential ability of competitors to design around process patents, some observers believe that process patents may be of less significance in the marketplace than patents directed towards the final product itself. 93 The Hatch-Waxman Act, Intellectual Property, and Biologics In addition to creating expedited marketing approval pathways for generic drugs, the HatchWaxman Act incorporated numerous additional provisions pertaining to intellectual property.94 Among these provisions are a statutory exemption from claims of patent infringement based on acts reasonably related to seeking FDA approval (commonly know as the “safe harbor”); patent term extension for a portion of the time spent seeking marketing approval; special provisions for challenging the enforceability, validity, or infringement of approved drug patents; data exclusivities for brand-name firms; and a reward for challenging patent enforceability, validity, or infringement consisting of 180 days of generic exclusivity to the first generic applicant to file a patent challenge against any approved drug. 95 The applicability of the intellectual property provisions of the Hatch-Waxman Act to biologics presents complex issues. Some of the provisions of the Hatch-Waxman Act plainly apply to biologics, whether they were approved under the FDC Act or the PHS Act. In particular, the patent term extension and “safe harbor” provisions found in Title II of the Hatch-Waxman Act were enacted as general amendments to the Patent Act (Title 35 of the U.S. Code). The patent term extension statute, codified at 35 U.S.C. § 156, specifically accounts for the possibility of a “human biological product” approved under the Public Health Service Act. The “safe harbor” provision, found at 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1), has been construed to apply to biologics as well.96 Congress framed the remaining intellectual property provisions of the Hatch-Waxman Act, including those establishing data exclusivities and specialized dispute resolution proceedings, as specific amendments to the FDC Act. 97 These provisions would therefore apply to biologics only to the extent they were governed by the FDC Act. To the extent that a particular biologic is approved under the auspices of the PHS Act, however, these provisions would be inapplicable.98 93 See Dennis J. Karjala, “Biotech Patents and Indigenous Peoples,” 7 Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, and Technology (2006), 483. 94 P.L. 84-417, 98 Stat. 1585 (1984). 95 A more detailed discussion of the Hatch-Waxman Act is found at CRS Report RL30756, Patent Law and Its Application to the Pharmaceutical Industry: An Examination of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (“The Hatch-Waxman Act”), by Wendy H. Schacht and John R. Thomas. 96 See Patent Fairness Act of 1999: Hearing on H.R. 1598 Before the House Comm. on the Judiciary, 106th Cong. 94 (1999) (statement of Hon. Henry A. Waxman, Member, House Comm. on Government Reform) (available at http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/judiciary/hju62499.000/hju62499_0f.htm). 97 The term “data exclusivity” refers to a period of time during which an applicant for FDA marketing approval may not rely upon the preclinical, clinical, or other data developed and submitted by another firm. Data exclusivity does not preclude the FDA from approving an application for marketing approval when the applicant has itself conducted, or has a right of access to, preclinical, clinical, or other data generated by another company. Some sources refer to data exclusivity as “marketing exclusivity” or “data protection.” See Thomas, supra, at 349. 98 See Terry Mahn and Margo Furman, The Role of Patent and Non-Patent Exclusivity Under the Hatch-Waxman Act (2005), 19-20 (available at http://www.fr.com/practice/pdf/05-16-05%20_PatentandNon-PatentExclusivity.pdf). Congressional Research Service 12 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Should the FDC Act apply to a particular biologic, one of its more notable intellectual property provisions relates to so-called data exclusivities (sometimes called “marketing exclusivities”). The term “data exclusivity” refers to a period of time during which the FDA affords an approved drug protection from competing applications for marketing approval. Among the existing data exclusivities under the Hatch-Waxman Act is a five-year period available for drugs that qualify as new chemical entities. Should the drug’s sponsor submit new clinical studies in support, that sponsor may obtain a three-year period of data exclusivity that applies to the use of the product that was supported by the new clinical study. Data Exclusivities If a new, expedited FDA approval process is legislated for follow-on biologics under the Public Health Service Act, the length of any data exclusivity period appears to be the subject of debate. Some commentators, including the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), argue the HatchWaxman Act provides a good model for the treatment of biosimilars in that the competition engendered by traditional generic drugs under the Act has “provided the U.S. with the most robust pharmaceutical industry in the world.”99 Some experts tend to dismiss the idea of added data exclusivity provisions as a necessary incentive for the development of new biologics and note that there is no data to support a need for any incentives beyond those associated with the Hatch-Waxman Act. According to GPhA, there is no reasonable justification for granting unprecedented and excessive market exclusivity periods to biopharmaceuticals. Any market exclusivity terms that are longer than five years diminish the importance of and reliance upon our patent system. Providing long government-granted absolute, market exclusivity terms would permit the developer of biopharmaceuticals to “double dip” by taking advantage of the absolute market exclusivity provision as well as garnering the fruits of the patent system. Patents are viewed by many as sufficient to protect the intellectual property of innovator biologic firms and patent protection is the same for traditional pharmaceuticals as it is for biologics. Opponents of additional data exclusivity periods maintain that while patents can be challenged in court, an award of data exclusivity is effectively incontestable as stated in the response to an April 3, 2008 questionnaire from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce by Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Some commentators contend that significantly extending data exclusivity for reference biologics would result in a guaranteed monopoly longer than that provided under the Hatch-Waxman Act. In addition, Barr stated that there are a “multitude of financial incentives” for new biologic product development including: patent term restoration; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office restoration for delays in patent approval; orphan drug exclusivity; orphan drug tax credits; general business research and experimentation tax credits; Puerto Rico activity tax credit; foreign tax credit; and Uruguay Round Agreement Act patent term restoration. Other experts maintain that the Hatch-Waxman model is not appropriate for follow-on biologics. These commentators assert that patents on biologics do not provide as robust a scope of proprietary rights as patents on small molecule drugs. Follow-on biologics cannot be the “same” 99 All quotes in this section, unless otherwise noted, are taken from responses to a questionnaire sent to 35 stakeholders interested in the effort to craft an accelerated approval pathway by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce dated April 3, 2008 and posted on the Committee website at http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/ 040308.FOB.Responses.shtml Congressional Research Service 13 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues as the reference product because they are made by different cell lines under different manufacturing processes. Therefore, it is argued, the patent-related provisions of the HatchWaxman Act do not protect the brand name companies’ investments as they would with traditional chemical drugs. As stated by biopharmaceutical company Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., due to the differences between small molecule drugs and biologics, the scope of protection afforded by a patent is narrower for a biologic than a traditional drug. With respect to small molecule drugs [e.g. chemical drugs], the key patent protection is on the active pharmaceutical ingredient, which, if patented, cannot be copied by a competitor during the term of protection. A patent on an innovator biologic, however, may not be infringed by a “highly similar” biologic. Thus, although patents for biologics provide critical incentives, particularly during the period of initial discovery and development, the protection that they offer should not be compared to that of the patents on traditional small molecule drugs. Thus, a firm utilizing an expedited approval process for a biosimilar drug based on the HatchWaxman Act would have access to the health, safety, and efficacy data of the innovator product but would be able to “design around” the reference drug without infringing the existing patents. Many argue that additional data exclusivities are necessary to encourage innovative new biologics. Data exclusivity serves as an incentive to additional costly development and encourages venture capital investments necessary for continued R&D, testing, and commercialization. In addition, proponents maintain that data exclusivity provides certainty in the process of developing a biologic which patents do not. This certainty generates competition in the marketplace where without significant data exclusivity for biotechnology products the venture capital sector is expected to invest elsewhere. In addition, commentators point out that data exclusivity does not prevent the introduction of a follow-on biologic product based on the generic company’s own testing. According to Amgen, Inc., A patent would prevent another manufacturer from marketing the same drug (or pay damages for infringement), even with a full application supported by its own data. Data exclusivity simply prevents reliance on the innovator’s date for FDA approval, but does not prohibit a manufacturer from gaining approval of a product based on their own data. Legislative Activity Legislation introduced in the 111th Congress would amend the Public Health Service Act in order to provide specialized patent dispute resolution proceedings for biologics. The proposed regimes would act differently than the existing Hatch-Waxman framework. To date, H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, as passed by the House on November 14, 2009, and H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as passed by the Senate on December 24, 2009, include such provisions. (See Table 1 below for a comparison of the relevant sections contained in H.R. 3962 and H.R. 3590.) H.R. 3962 (as passed by the House), H.R. 3200, and H.R. 1548 mandate that within 30 days of the filing of a biosimilar application, the Secretary publish a notice of the application. The followon applicant also must provide the reference product owner with information concerning the biosimilar product and its manufacture. Within 60 days of the receipt of this information, the reference product sponsor must identify patents that it deems relevant to the biosimilar product. The reference product sponsor is required to update this list with any patents it subsequently acquires. In addition, “interested third parties” may inform the biosimilar applicant of their Congressional Research Service 14 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues relevant patents at any time, and then be entitled to obtain information concerning the follow-on product and its production. The interested third party is then provided 90 days to identify further relevant patents; as with the reference product sponsor, the interested third party must update this list with subsequently acquired patents. Reference product sponsors and interested third parties must additionally state why they believe the biosimilar product would infringe their patents. The biosimilar applicant is then allowed 45 days to state either that it will not market its product until the relevant patents have expired, or alternatively provide its views that the patents are invalid or would not be infringed. In the latter case, the reference product owner of the interested third party may commence a patent infringement lawsuit against the biosimilar applicant within 60 days. Under H.R. 1548, follow-on applicants would be unable to seek declaratory judgment with respect to patents that are subject to notice and explanation by their owners until the later of 120 days after the explanation is provided, or 3 years prior to the expiration of marketing exclusivity. 100 H.R. 3962 also would amend the Patent Act to stipulate that the filing of a statement by a biosimilar applicant regarding patents identified by the reference product sponsor and other interested parties may be considered an act of patent infringement. This legislation would require reference product sponsors, and allow other interested parties, to identify patents that relate to the proposed biosimilar product. The biosimilar applicant would then be afforded the opportunity to state its position regarding those patents. If the biosimilar applicant responds by asserting that one or more of these patents are invalid, unenforceable, or would not be infringed by the proposed biosimilar product, the biosimilar applicant would be deemed to have committed an act of patent infringement that would be immediately actionable in the courts. H.R. 3590 (as passed by the Senate) and S. 1679 require that within 20 days after the Secretary publishes a notice that its application has been accepted for review, the biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant will provide the reference product sponsor with details concerning the product and its production. Within 60 days of the date of receipt of that information, the reference product sponsor is then required to identify patents that it deems relevant to the biosimilar or interchangeable product. The reference product sponsor is required to update this list with any patents it subsequently acquires. The biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant is then allowed 60 days to provide the reference product sponsor with a list of patents it deems relevant to the reference product. The biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant must also state either that it will not market its product until the relevant patents have expired, or alternatively provide its views that the patents are invalid or would not be infringed. In the latter case, the reference product sponsor or interested third party must provide the biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant with a response concerning the infringement and validity of those patents within 60 days. The parties are then required to engage in good faith negotiations to agree on which patents will be the subject of a patent infringement action. If those negotiations do not result in an agreement within 15 days, the parties will exchange lists of relevant patents to be litigated, with at least one patent identified by the reference product sponsor being subject to litigation. The reference product sponsor may then commence patent infringement litigation within 30 days. The biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant must notify the reference product sponsor at least 180 days before it commences commercial marketing, and the reference product sponsor is allowed to seek a preliminary injunction at that time. Declaratory judgments are prohibited for either party unless the biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant fails to 100 H.R. 1548 at § 101(a) Congressional Research Service 15 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues provide a product and patent application as required, at which time the reference product sponsor may seek a declaratory judgment. Follow-on or prospective follow-on applicants are permitted to request identification of all relevant patents from the holder of the reference product under H.R. 1427 and S. 726. The brandname firm would then be required to respond to such a request within 60 days. The reference product holder further is mandated to update this list for a period of two years.101 The follow-on applicant is able to challenge any identified patent by providing the basis for the challenge to the patent proprietor and holder of the reference product. The patent proprietor is required to bring a patent infringement suit within 45 days of notice of a challenge or lose the right to certain remedies in court. Follow-on applicants would be unable to seek declaratory judgment with respect to patents subject to notice by the patent proprietor prior to the commercial marketing of their products.102 In infringement litigation brought by the patent owner, the defendant may move to transfer the litigation to another district court that satisfies the requirements of jurisdiction and venue. In deciding whether to move the litigation to another court, a judge shall give greatest weight to the expeditious adjudication of the matter so that the biological product subject to the patent dispute may be brought to market as soon as possible, consistent with a fair and prompt resolution of the patent dispute.103 These bills also provide for data exclusivities that would be awarded to brand-name firms. Data exclusivities prevent the FDA from approving a follow-on version of the brand-name firm’s product until a certain period of time had elapsed. H.R. 3962 (as passed by the House), H.R. 3590 (as passed by the Senate), S. 1679, H.R. 3200, and H.R. 1548 mandate that no application for a biosimilar product may be approved for 12 years from the reference product’s licensure date. No application for a follow-on biologic may be filed for four years from the date the reference product was licensed. In addition, the first two bills state that exclusivity will not be awarded for (1) supplements to the reference product application; (2) the identification of new indications, routes of administration, dosing, or delivery; or (3) modifications to the structure of the biological product that do not result in a change in safety, purity, or potency. In addition, H.R. 3590 and S. 1679 state that if a reference product has been designated an orphan drug, an application for a biosimilar or interchangeable product may not be filed until the later of: (1) the 7-year period of orphan drug exclusivity described in the FFDCA; or (2) the 12-year period established by this bill. Under H.R. 3962, H.R. 3200, and H.R. 1548, approval of pediatric applications would not become effective until 12 years and 6 months after approval of the reference product. Pediatric exclusivity must be determined by the FDA no later than 9 months prior to the expiration of the initial marketing exclusivity period or no additional pediatric exclusivity will be awarded. H.R. 1548 further states the data exclusivity period is extended to 14 years if, during the 8-year period following licensing of the reference product, approval of a new indication which would provide significant improvement in treatment, diagnosis, or prevention. 101 H.R. 1427 at § 3(a) and S. 726 at § 3(a). 102 A declaratory judgment action is provided by a “federal or state law permitting parties to bring an action to determine their legal rights and positions regarding a controversy not yet ripe for adjudication.... ” Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004). In the context of patents, an action for declaratory judgment potentially would allow a biosimilar applicant to “clear the air by suing for a judgment that would settle the conflict of interests” with the owner of the reference product. Arrowhead Indus. Water, Inc. v. Ecolochem, Inc., 846 F.2d 731, 735 (Fed. Cir. 1988). 103 H.R. 1427 at § 3(b) and S. 726 at § 3(b). Congressional Research Service 16 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues For pediatric applications, approval of the follow-on biologic application would not become effective until 14 years and 6 months after approval of the reference product provided that the pediatric exclusivity is determined by FDA no later than 9 months prior to the end of the initial marketing exclusivity period.104 Under H.R. 1427 and S. 726, no application for a follow-on product may be approved for five years from the date of approval of the reference product if the innovator drug is considered a new major substance. Three years of exclusivity are granted to products that include a major substance that has been previously approved, provided that new clinical investigations essential to the approval of the application were undertaken. If the reference product has been subject to a supplemental application that the Secretary approves no later than one year before the expiration of this three- or five-year period, and the supplement relates to a change that provides a significant therapeutic advance, then the three- or five-year period is extended. If the gross sales of the reference product exceed one billion dollars, than the period of extension is three months; otherwise the period of extension is six months. 105 An additional six-month data exclusivity is awarded for brand-name biologics that are the subject of pediatric studies requested by the Secretary. 106 Market exclusivity also would be awarded to the sponsor of a particular follow-on biologic that is the first to obtain FDA marketing approval. H.R. 3962 (as passed by the House), H.R. 3590 (as passed by the Senate), H.R. 3200, and S. 1679 allow a period of market exclusivity for the applicant that is the first to establish that its product is interchangeable with the reference product for any condition of use. The period of marketing exclusivity is the earlier of: (1) one year after the first commercial marketing of the first interchangeable biosimilar product to be approved as interchangeable with that reference product; (2) 18 months after either a final court judgment in patent infringement litigation under the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, as amended, or the dismissal of such litigation against the first applicant; (3) 42 months after the approval of the first interchangeable biosimilar biological product if patent litigation under the PHS Act, as amended, remains pending; or (4) 18 months after approval of the first interchangeable biosimilar product if the applicant has not been sued for patent infringement under the PHS Act, as amended. H.R. 3962 also requires that reference product and biosimilar product sponsors file with the Assistant Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission copies of the text of any agreement they reach regarding the manufacture, marketing, or sale of either product. Agreements that solely concern purchase orders for raw materials, equipment and facility contracts, employment or consulting contracts, or packaging and labeling contracts are excluded. Failure to comply with this filing requirement may result in civil fines and other relief as the courts deem appropriate. With the concurrence of the Assistant Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission may engage in rulemaking regarding the filing requirement. H.R. 1427 and S. 726 permit a market exclusivity period for the first product that is determined to be interchangeable with the reference drug. This period would not expire until the earlier of (1) 180 days after first commercial marketing; (2) one year after a Court of Appeals decision on or dismissal of all patent infringement suits against the product; (3) 36 months after the date of approval if such patent litigation is on-going; or (4) one year after approval if there is no such 104 H.R. 1548 at § 101(a). H.R. 1427 at § 3(a) and S. 726 at § 3(a). 106 H.R. 1427 at §4 and S. 726 at § 4. 105 Congressional Research Service 17 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues litigation. 107 H.R. 1548 allows marketing exclusivity for the first follow-on biologic to establish that it is interchangeable with the reference product for one or more conditions of use. This period would be 24 months after the later of either the date of the first commercial marketing of the interchangeable drug or, if marketed before interchangeability is determined, the date the product is determined to be interchangeable. 108 Table 1. Proprietary Rights-Related Provisions of H.R. 3962 and H.R. 3590 H.R. 3962 Passed by House H.R. 3590 Passed by Senate H.R. 3962 mandates that within 30 days of the filing of a biosimilar application, the Secretary publish a notice of the application. The follow-on applicant also must provide the reference product owner with information concerning the biosimilar product and its manufacture. Within 60 days of the receipt of this information, the reference product sponsor must identify patents that it deems relevant to the biosimilar product. The reference product sponsor is required to update this list with any patents it subsequently acquires. In addition, “interested third parties" may inform the biosimilar applicant of their relevant patents at any time, and then be entitled to obtain information concerning the follow-on product and its production. The interested third party is then provided 90 days to identify further relevant patents; as with the reference product sponsor, the interested third party must update this list with subsequently acquired patents. Reference product sponsors and interested third parties must additionally state why they believe the biosimilar product would infringe their patents. The biosimilar applicant is then allowed 45 days to state either that it will not market its product until the relevant patents have expired, or alternatively provide its views that the patents are invalid or would not be infringed. In the latter case, the reference product owner of the interested third party may commence a patent infringement lawsuit against the biosimilar applicant within 60 days. [Sec. 2575] H.R. 3590 requires that within 20 days after the Secretary publishes a notice that its application has been accepted for review, the biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant will provide the reference product sponsor with details concerning the product and its production. Within 60 days of the date of receipt of that information, the reference product sponsor is then required to identify patents that it deems relevant to the biosimilar or interchangeable product. The reference product sponsor is required to update this list with any patents it subsequently acquires. The biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant is then allowed 60 days to provide the reference product sponsor with a list of patents it deems relevant to the reference product. The biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant must also state either that it will not market its product until the relevant patents have expired, or alternatively provide its views that the patents are invalid or would not be infringed. In the latter case, the reference product sponsor or interested third party must provide the biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant with a response concerning the infringement and validity of those patents within 60 days. The parties are then required to engage in good faith negotiations to agree on which patents will be the subject of a patent infringement action. If those negotiations do not result in an agreement within 15 days, the parties will exchange lists of relevant patents to be litigated, with at least one patent identified by the reference product sponsor being subject to litigation. The reference product sponsor may then commence patent infringement litigation within 30 days. The biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant must notify the reference product Issue Patent Infringement 107 108 H.R. 1427 at § 3(a) and S. 726 at § 3(a) H.R. 1548 at § 101(a) Congressional Research Service 18 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues sponsor at least 180 days before it commences commercial marketing, and the reference product sponsor is allowed to seek a preliminary injunction at that time. Declaratory judgments are prohibited for either party unless the biosimilar or interchangeable product applicant fails to provide a product and patent application as required, at which time the reference product sponsor may seek a declaratory judgment. [Sec. 7002] Data Exclusivity An extra six months of data (market) exclusivity would be provided for a biologic drug if pediatric studies are conducted, with the exception of a biologic drug already on the market when the request for the extension on the marketed drug is made later than nine months before the expiration of the original exclusivity period. [Sec. 2575] Similar provision; different wording. An extra six months of data (market) exclusivity would be provided for a new biologic drug if pediatric studies are conducted prior to FDA approval of the drug. An extra six months of data (market) exclusivity is provided for a biologic drug already on the market if pediatric studies are conducted and the request for the extension is made not less than nine months before the expiration of the original exclusivity period. [Sec. 7002] Market Exclusivity H.R. 3962 would allow for a period of exclusive marketing for the biological product that is the first to be established as interchangeable with the reference product. The provision also would provide a 12-year data exclusivity period (from the date on which the reference product was first approved) for the reference product. [Sec. 2575] Same provision. [Sec. 7002] Source: H.R. 3962, as passed by the House of Representatives on November 14, 2009, and H.R. 3590, as passed by the Senate on December 24, 2009. Innovation Issues Patents have been particularly significant to the pharmaceutical industry. Creation of an expedited approval process for generic versions of traditional chemical drugs that have come off patent has been deemed very successful in bringing lower-cost versions of innovator products to the marketplace. However, while many biopharmaceuticals are now poised to lose, or recently have lost, patent protection, additional considerations not associated with typical chemical drugs may be brought into play in determining the success of efforts to bring similar, less expensive biotechnologies to the marketplace. Questions for policymakers remain as to whether or not an expedited approval process for biopharmaceuticals will result in a competitive market for these products similar to that created by the Hatch-Waxman Act for chemical drugs. The high costs associated with manufacturing biologics, the scale of additional clinical trials required for FDA marketing approval, and other marketing considerations may affect the availability of lower-cost versions of these products. The section below discusses the role of patents in innovation and the particular situation in the pharmaceutical industry. It then explores some of the unique issues Congressional Research Service 19 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues associated with the manufacture and marketing of follow-on biologics to provide a context within which to assess various legislative options. Patents and Innovation Patent ownership is perceived to be an incentive to innovation, the basis for the technological advancement that contributes to economic growth. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution states: “The Congress Shall Have Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.... ” Although not without question, patents are widely thought to encourage innovation by simultaneously protecting the inventor and fostering competition. They provide the inventor with a right to exclude others, temporarily, from use of the invention without compensation. Patents generally give the owner an exclusive right for 20 years (from date of filing) to further develop the idea, commercialize a product or process, and potentially realize a return on the initial investment. Concurrently, the process of obtaining a patent places the concept in the public arena. As a disclosure system, the patent can, and often does, stimulate other firms or individuals to invent “around” existing patents to provide for parallel technical developments or meet similar market needs. The grant of a patent does not necessarily provide the owner with an affirmative right to market the patented invention. Pharmaceutical products are also subject to marketing approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Federal laws typically require that pharmaceutical manufacturers demonstrate that their products are safe and effective in order to bring these drugs to the marketplace. Issuance of a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and FDA marketing consent are distinct events that depend upon different criteria. The patent system has dual policy goals—providing incentives for inventors to invent and encouraging inventors to disclose technical information.109 Disclosure requirements are factors in achieving a balance between current and future innovation through the patent process, as are limitations on scope, novelty mandates, and nonobviousness considerations.110 Many observers believe that patents give rise to an environment of competitiveness with multiple sources of innovation, which is viewed by some experts as the basis for technological progress. This may be important because, as Professors Robert Merges and Richard Nelson found in their studies, in a situation where only “a few organizations controlled the development of a technology, technical advance appeared sluggish.”111 Not everyone agrees that the patent system is a particularly effective means to stimulate innovation. Critics argue that patents provide a monopoly that induces additional social costs. Some observers believe that the patent system encourages industry concentration and presents a 109 Robert P. Merges, “Commercial Success and Patent Standards: Economic Perspectives on Innovation,” California Law Review, July 1988, 876. 110 Keneth W. Dam, “The Economic Underpinnings of Patent Law,” Journal of Legal Studies, January 1994, 266-267. Scope is determined by the breath of the claims made in a patent. Claims are the technical descriptions associated with the invention. In order for an idea to receive a patent, the law requires that it be “new, useful [novel], and nonobvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention pertains.” 111 Robert P. Merges and Richard R. Nelson, “On the Complex Economics of Patent Scope,” Columbia Law Review, May 1990, 908. Congressional Research Service 20 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues barrier to entry in some markets.112 Others believe that the patent system too frequently attracts speculators who prefer to acquire and enforce patents rather than engage in socially productive activity. 113 Still other commentators suggest that the patent system often converts pioneering inventors into technological suppressors, who use their patents to block subsequent improvements and thereby impede technological progress.114 Role of Patents in Pharmaceutical R&D The utility of patents to companies varies among industrial sectors. Patents are perceived by pharmaceutical companies as critical to the drug industry. That may reflect the nature of R&D performed in this sector, where the resulting patents are more detailed in their claims and therefore easier to defend.115 In contrast, one study found that in the aircraft and semiconductor industries patents are not the most successful mechanism for capturing the benefits of investments. Instead, lead time and the strength of the learning curve were determined to be more important.116 Research undertaken by Professor Wesley Cohen and his colleagues demonstrated that patents were considered the most effective method to protect inventions in the drug industry when biotechnology is included. 117 The high cost of drug development and the concomitant uncertainty associated with clinical trials necessary for marketing approval lends significance to patents in the pharmaceutical arena. Studies by Joseph DiMasi of Tufts University and others published in 2003 estimated that the capitalized cost of bringing a new drug (defined as a “new molecular entity” rather than a new formulation of an existing pharmaceutical product) to the point of marketing approval was $802 million (2000 dollars).118 Additional research done by Federal Trade Commission analysts found the costs to be even higher; between $839 million and $868 million (2000 dollars).119 At the same time, the total capitalized costs appear to be growing at an annual rate of 7.4% above general price inflation. 120 A large portion of new drug costs (in terms of money and time) is associated with the size and breath of clinical trials necessary to obtain FDA marketing approval. According to a study 112 See John R. Thomas, “Collusion and Collective Action in the Patent System: A Proposal for Patent Bounties,” University of Illinois Law Review, 2001, 305. 113 Id. 114 On the Complex Economics of Patent Scope, 839. 115 Id., 255 and 257. See also: Edwin Mansfield, “Intellectual Property Rights, Technological Change, and Economic Growth,” in Intellectual Property Rights and Capital Formation in the Next Decade, eds. Charles E. Walker and Mark A. Bloomfield (New York: University Press of American, 1988), 12 and 13. 116 Richard C. Levin, Alvin K. Klevorick, Richard R. Nelson, and Sidney G. Winter. “Appropriating the Returns for Industrial Research and Development,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 1987, in The Economics of Technical Change, eds. Edwin Mansfield and Elizabeth Mansfield (Vermont, Edward Elgar Publishing Co., 1993), 253. 117 Wesley M. Cohen, Richard R. Nelson, and John P. Walsh, Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not), NBER Working Paper 7552, Cambridge, National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2000, available at http://www.nber.org/papers/w7552. 118 Joseph A. DiMasi, Ronald W. Hansen, and Henry G. Grabowski. “The Price of Innovation: New Estimates of Drug Development Costs,” 22 Journal of Health Economics, 2003. Capitalized cost includes the “time cost” associated with an investment and the cost of testing drug products that fail. 119 Christopher P. Adams and Van V. Brantner, Estimating the Costs of New Drug Development: Is it Really $802m?, Federal Trade Commission, December 2004, available at http://media.romanvenable.net/images/drugCost.pdf. 120 The Price of Innovation: New Estimates of Drug Development Costs, 180. Congressional Research Service 21 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues supported by the Federal Reserve of Boston, only 10% of potential drug candidates reach the human trial phase and only a small portion of these actually reach the market. 121 In research presented at a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Duke University’s Henry Grabowski found that only 1% of drug compounds reach the human trial stage and 22% of those entering clinical trials receive FDA approval.122 Professor Iain Cockburn notes that “as drug discovery became more science-intensive, ... it became not just more expensive but also more difficult to manage.”123 Furthermore, returns to new drug introductions vary widely and some experts have found that the median new drug does not bring in sufficient profits to cover the costs of bringing the product to the marketplace.124 According to research by Professors Grabowski, John Vernon, and DiMasi, only 34% of new drugs (new chemical entities) introduced generated profits that equaled the industry average R&D cost.125 The degree to which industry perceives patents as effective has been characterized as “positively correlated with the increase in duplication costs and time associated with patents.”126 In certain industries, patents significantly raise the costs incurred by nonpatent holders wishing to use the idea or invent around the patent—an estimated 40% in the pharmaceutical sector, 30% for major new chemical products, and 25% for typical chemical goods—and are thus viewed as significant. However, in other industries, patents have much smaller impact on the costs associated with imitation (e.g., in the 7%-15% range for electronics), and may be considered less successful in protecting resource investments.127 The significant costs of pharmaceutical R&D, coupled with the uncertainty of the clinical trial process, lend consequence to patents in this area because “the disparity between the investments of innovators and those of imitators is particularly large in pharmaceuticals—almost as large as when software pirates simply copy the diskettes of an innovator.”128 While the capitalized cost of developing a new drug to the point of market approval is estimated at over $800 million, it takes only between $1 million and $2 million to obtain approval for a generic version of the chemically synthesized pharmaceutical. 129 This difference is a result of the costs associated with clinical trials 121 Carrie Conway, “The Pros and Cons of Pharmaceutical Patents,” Regional Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, March, 2003, available at http://www.findarticles.com. 122 Henry G. Grabowski, “Patents, Innovation, and Access to New Pharmaceuticals,” Journal of International Economic Law, 2002, 851. 123 Iain Cockburn, “The Changing Structure of the Pharmaceutical Industry,” Health Affairs, January/February 2004, 15. 124 Henry G. Grabowski, “Patents and New Product Development in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries,” Science and Cents: Exploring the Economics of Biotechnology, Proceedings of a 2002 Conference, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 95-96 available at http://www.dallasfed.org/research/pubs/science/grabowski.pdf; and Henry Grabowski, John Vernon, and Joseph A. DiMasi, “Returns on Research and Development for 1990s New Drug Introductions,” 20 Pharmacoeconomics, 2002. 125 Henry Grabowski, John Vernon, and Joseph A. DiMasi, “Returns on Research and Development for 1990s New Drug Introductions,” 20 Pharmacoeconomics, 2002, 23. 126 Appropriating the Returns for Industrial Research and Development, 269. 127 Edwin Mansfield, Mark Schwartz, and Samuel Wagner. “Imitation Costs and Patents: An Empirical Study,” The Economic Journal, December 1981, in The Economics of Technical Change, 270. See also: Appropriating the Returns for Industrial Research and Development. 128 Federic M. Scherer, “The Economics of Human Gene Patents,” 77 Academic Medicine, December 2002, 1352. 129 Patents, Innovation, and Access to New Pharmaceuticals, 852. Congressional Research Service 22 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues needed to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a new drug, data that could be utilized by generic companies if not protected by a patent. 130 Clinical Trials The scale and extent of clinical trials necessary to approve follow-on biologics is expected to factor into whether or not this industry will provide the cost savings needed to be viable. 131 The varied characteristics of individual biologic products may make it likely that regulatory and developmental requirements for follow-on products will need to reflect each individual situation.132 Innovator and generic manufacturers appear to agree that “Unlike small-molecule copycats, for biogenerics, the nature and extent of the data needed will also depend very much on the product involved: regulatory guidelines must be defined product by product.”133 Generic biotechnology manufacturers assert that extensive new clinical trials would not be necessary in an expedited approval process but should be considered on a case-by-case basis, as discussed previously. Innovator companies dispute this. The nature of biologics has resulted in longer mean clinical development time for these products when compared with traditional drugs.134 In addition, the number of clinical trials necessary to file a new drug application has doubled since 1980 and the number of participants in these trials has tripled. 135 If additional clinical trials are necessary to demonstrate “sameness,” effectiveness, and safety, estimates are that it may take twice the time to develop a follow-on biopharmaceutical than a chemical generic with a cost that some expect to be 8-100 times higher than that associated with a traditional generic product.136 Phase III trials are the most expensive of the required trials and any additional requirements for follow-on biologics likely would increase the cost to the public.137 Manufacturing Considerations As discussed above, biotechnology drugs are characterized by their manufacturing process such that: The manufacturing process for each biologic defines, to a significant extent, the product because biologics are based on living cells or organisms whose metabolisms are inherently variable. Moreover, apparently small differences between manufacturing processes can cause significant differences in the clinical properties of the resulting products.138 130 The Economics of Human Gene Patents, 1352. “Delay in U.S. Regulatory Approval Significantly Lowers Forecast for BioGenerics Market to $2.3 Billion,” Business Wire, November 22, 2005. 131 132 John Ansell, “Biogenerics Part I: Set to Make Real Inroads or Not?,” PharmaWeek, January 26, 2006, available at http://www.pharmaweek.com?Exclusive_Content/1_26.asp. 133 Id. 134 The Market For Follow-On Biologics: How Will It Evolve?, 1293. 135 Gregory J. Glover, “The Influence of Market Exclusivity on Drug Availability and Medical Innovations,” The AAPS Journal, August 3, 2007, E313. 136 IMS Health, “Biogenerics: A Difficult Birth?,” May 18, 2004 available at http://www.imshealth.com/web/content/ 0,3148,64576068_63872702_70261000_71026746,00.html. 137 Ernst & Young, “Coming of Age,” Beyond Boarders, 2005, available at http://www.ey.com/beyondboarders. 138 Biologics: Can There Be Abbreviated Applications, Generics, or Follow-On Products? Congressional Research Service 23 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues This insures that the manufacture of biologics will tend to be significantly more expensive than traditional chemically synthesized drugs.139 The FDA is required to inspect the manufacturing facilities and processes involved in the production of biologics: “Unlike small-molecule manufacturing, biomanufacturers get approval for both the drug and the process used to make it, and that approval can take years.”140 Therefore, these facilities must be built and operational prior to the FDA approval process. According to FDA guidelines, “Issuance of a biologics license is a determination that the product, the manufacturing process, and the manufacturing facilities [emphasis added] meet applicable requirements to ensure the continued safety, purity and potency of the product.”141 It has been estimated that each large U.S.-based biologic “manufacturing facility costs between $200 and $400 million to build, and takes four years before gaining approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.”142 In addition, the cost of materials to manufacture biologics may be 20 to 100 times more than chemical drugs.143 The production process for biologics typically takes longer than traditional drugs and may take eight to nine months.144 Altering the manufacturing process in any way tends to require that validation be repeated. 145 One commentator stated: “It’s hard to predict how process variations will change a product’s safety or effectiveness.”146 This is a result of the incidence of impurities arising from changes in the method of production and the increased opportunity of adverse immune reactions.147 It is difficult to find and identify impurities in biologics as, to date, simple tests do not exist. Thus, there are often additional costs associated with preventing impurities from entering into the production process.148 Some experts argue that there is also a need for additional clinical (human) trials to insure that any changes to the production process do not result in impurities that are harmful. 149 However, generic manufacturers assert that they can maintain high standards in the manufacturing process to insure similar products that are safe and effective. 150 139 The Market For Follow-On Biologics: How Will It Evolve?, 1293; and The Long and Winding Road to Biologic Follow-ons, 24. 140 Alison McCook, “Manufacturing on a Grand Scale,” The Scientist, February 14, 2005, available at http://www.thescientist.com. 141 U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Frequently Asked Questions About Therapeutic Biological Products, July 26, 2006, available at http://www.fda.gov/cder/biologics/qa.htm. 142 Manufacturing on a Grand Scale. 143 The Market For Follow-On Biologics: How Will It Evolve?, 1293. 144 The Long and Winding Road to Biologic Follow-ons, 24. 145 Manufacturing on a Grand Scale. 146 William Alpert, “Biotech’s Next Challenge,” SmartMoney.com, May 22, 2006, available at http://www.smartmoney.com/barrons/index.cfm?story=20060522. 147 Joshua W. Devine, Richard R. Cline, and Joel F. Farley, “Follow-on Biologics: Competition in the Biopharmaceutical Marketplace,” Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, March/April 2006, 194. 148 Gurdeep Singh Shah, “The Current Market for Generic Biologics,” International Biopharmaceutical Association, June 2006, available at http://www.ibpassociation.org/IBPA_articles/jun2006issue/ The_Current_Market_for_Generic_Biologics.htm. 149 Biologics: Can There Be Abbreviated Applications, Generics, or Follow-On Products? 150 Proposed Legislation for Follow-On Biologic Pharmaceuticals in the US. Congressional Research Service 24 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues Marketing Concerns Several commentators have suggested that marketing costs associated with follow-on biologics will be higher than with traditional generics because of the need to convince doctors that these products generate similar results.151 If the follow-on biopharmaceutical cannot be termed equivalent to the brand name drug, doctors and pharmacists may not be able to readily substitute: Marketing and patient support are more important for biosimilars, favouring companies with significant financial resources and who have had experience in marketing branded products. The generics market has historically used prices to secure market share, so it is important for biosimilar developers to understand and act on these factors. Early-stage success in the biosimilars market, however, is more dependent on the speed to market and successful marketing strategies.152 The greater the number of generic alternatives, the less the cost. However, biologics may not generate multiple follow-on products for the same brand name biopharmaceutical because of the higher costs associated with bringing these drugs to the marketplace. Price differentials associated with follow-on products may not be as great as with other generics because of the large initial costs related to establishing manufacturing facilities and performing any additional clinical studies necessary for FDA approval. Therefore, the makers of follow-on products would be expected to charge higher prices and generate more profits than the typical generic firm. 153 In addition, “Financial and scientific barriers might prevent the cutthroat price wars fought in the traditional generic market.”154 A study by Kalorama Information (The Market for Generic Biologics: Issues, Trends, and Market Potential, June 1, 2005) estimated that follow-on products will sell for only 10-20% less than the brand name biologic, not the 40-80% reduction in price generally seen with chemical drug generics.155 A Merrill Lynch analysis156 estimated prices 20%30% below the brand biologic for the first biosimilar to be marketed while a report by Citizens Against Government Waste157 estimated savings of 10%-25% over the brand biologic price in the first year and 25%-47% by the fifth year after introduction of a follow-on drug. Additional Observations If alternative mechanisms for accelerated approval of follow-on biologics are legislated, many experts argue that the cost savings will not be as substantial as those generated by typical generic drugs. High manufacturing costs, the need for additional safety and efficacy trials to test these products, and augmented marketing efforts directed at doctors and patients to encourage the use 151 The Long and Winding Road to Biologic Follow-ons, 24. Mark J. Belsey, Laura M. Harris, Romita R. Das, and Joanna Chertkow, “Biosimilars: Initial Excitement Gives Way to Reality,” Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, July 2006, available at http://www.nature.com/nrd/journal/v5/n7/full/ nrd2093.html. 153 William Alpert, “Biotech’s Next Challenge,” SmartMoney.com, May 22, 2006, available at http://smartmoney.com/ print/index.cfm?printcontent=/barrons/index.cfmstory=20060522. 154 Id. 155 Susan J. Ainsworth, “Biopharmaceuticals,” Chemical and Engineering News, June 6, 2005, 21-29. 156 Merrill Lynch, Biogenerics: Big Opportunities, Small Threat, September 6, 2006. 157 Everett Ehrlich and Elizabeth L. Wright, Biogenerics: What They Are, Why They Are Important, and Their Economic Value to Taxpayers and Consumers, Citizens Against Government Waste, May 2, 2007. 152 Congressional Research Service 25 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues of similar, but not identical drugs, are expected to add to the prices associated with the follow-on product. The differences between biologics and other drugs in turn lead to important differences in the economics of discovery, development, manufacturing, and distribution for drugs and biologics. Consequently, this could lead to different economic outcomes in terms of average prices, number of competitors, returns on spending for research and development (R&D), and other market measures.158 Some commentators are concerned that an expedited generic approval process similar to that established in the Hatch-Waxman Act may raise issues associated with the affect of patent challenges on biotechnology companies, many of which do not make a profit. How might this impact upon innovation in this sector? It has been argued that “[n]inety percent of biotech companies are surviving on venture capital, do not yet have a single product on the market, and are working hard to move products through preclinical discovery and chemistry to clinical investigation and then through FDA approval.”159 Often, a firm’s intellectual property is its primary asset, particularly through the drug development stage, and typically is utilized to raise funds for additional R&D. Thus, several experts maintain that defending patents may divert support from on-going innovation, especially in small companies that make up a significant portion of the biotechnology sector. Other experts argue that “Opening up biotech drugs to the prospect of generic competition after [emphasis added] patents expire may even spark innovation—forcing biotech companies to come up with improved versions of existing drugs that perhaps require less-frequent dosing, have fewer side effects or hang around the body longer, making them more effective.”160 However, the ability of brand name companies to bring out improved versions of their initial biologic may dampen development of follow-on products.161 Because biotechnology is advancing so quickly, improvements in existing products may dissuade generic firms from making follow-on products that require large investments in manufacturing plants and clinical trials.162 Patients may just switch to the next generation brand name drug. A question remains whether or not multiple companies will invest the time and money necessary to develop follow-on biologics: The scope of the requirements means that, in organizational terms, the development of biogenerics demands a culture and mentality closer to that of proprietary pharmaceutical developers than to that of conventional generics firms.... If regulatory demands for biogenerics prove exacting, then [established pharmaceutical] companies are probably better off developing entirely novel biotech products instead. The regulatory requirements for these products are usually much clearer, and in most cases, companies will stand to make far better commercial returns by taking this road.163 On the other hand, 158 The Market For Follow-On Biologics: How Will It Evolve?, 1292. See Weintraub, supra. 160 Scott Gottlieb, Biologics Warfare, May 6, 2005, available at http://www.aei.org/publication22467. 161 Biopharmaceuticals. 162 Id. 163 Biogenerics Part I: Set to Make Real Inroads or Not? 159 Congressional Research Service 26 . Follow-On Biologics: Intellectual Property and Innovation Issues One reason generics companies are dropping out of the race is the sheer scope of demands these projects require.... Generic companies also tend to be much less tolerant of delays and setbacks.... Given these circumstances, most generics companies will have a hard time coming to grips with the demands of biogenerics.164 If fewer companies chose to make follow-on products, there would be less competition in the marketplace resulting in reduced cost savings. This raises the issue of whether there are other, or additional mechanisms to encourage firms to produce lower cost follow-on biologics. In accessing any potential legislative activity in this area, it might be important to consider how to facilitate follow-on products after patent expiration while continuing to encourage innovation in the brand name biopharmaceutical sector. The Hatch-Waxman Act attempted to build just such a balance between the introduction of widely available generic drugs with adequate incentives for investment in the development of new pharmaceuticals. Many policy and industry experts agree that the Hatch-Waxman Act has had a significant effect on the availability of generic substitutes for brand name drugs while investment in the development of new pharmaceuticals has continued. At issue is whether or not it is desirable to pursue, and possible to achieve, a similar balance of interests in the biopharmaceutical industry. Author Contact Information Wendy H. Schacht Specialist in Science and Technology Policy wschacht@crs.loc.gov, 7-7066 John R. Thomas Visiting Scholar jrthomas@crs.loc.gov, 7-0075 Acknowledgments This report was funded in part by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. 164 Id. Congressional Research Service 27