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Sandoz, Inc. v. Food and Drug Administration

July 12, 2006

SANDOZ, INC. , PLAINTIFF,
v.
FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiff's motion [4] for a preliminary injunction. Upon consideration of plaintiff's motion, the opposition thereto, plaintiff's reply, the arguments of counsel, the applicable law, and the record in this case, the Court finds that plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction should be DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Congress established the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984 to lower the regulatory barriers facing generic drug companies and to encourage those companies to challenge the patents blocking generic entry to the market. See, e.g., Andrx Pharms., Inc. v. Biovail Corp., 276 F.3d 1368, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2002). In order to encourage generic drug companies to undertake the substantial cost of identifying patents to challenge and bearing the accompanying risks of potential patent litigation, Congress created a critical incentive to reward the first generic manufacturer to file a certification pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(2)(A)(vii)(IV) (a "Paragraph IV certification")*fn1 challenging a pharmaceutical patent-namely, a 180 day period of exclusivity during which no other generic version of the drug can be approved. See21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(5)(B)(iv) (2002); 21 C.F.R. § 314.107(c)(1). As this Court has explained:

In order to encourage generic drug makers to incur the potentially substantial litigation costs associated with challenging pioneer drug makers' patents, the Hatch-Waxman Amendments provide an added incentive for generic drug producers to file Paragraph IV certifications. The first manufacturer to file an [abbreviated new drug application ("ANDA")] containing a Paragraph IV certification with respect to a specific patent is awarded a 180-day period of exclusive marketing rights for a generic version of the drug claimed by that patent. In other words, no other ANDA for the same generic drug product will be approved during those 180 days.

Mylan Pharms., Inc. v. Shalala, 81 F. Supp. 2d 30, 33 (D.D.C. 2000) (Roberts, J). The statute provides that this exclusivity period begins when the generic company first commercially markets its product or, if earlier, when a court issues a decision "holding the patent which is the subject of the certification to be invalid or not infringed." 21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(5)(B)(iv) (2002).

Simvastatin is a cholesterol-lowering drug patented by Merck & Co. ("Merck") and sold under the brand name Zocor. Currently, Merck is the sole marketer of Zocor which has been a highly successful and important cholesterol medication. (Pl.'s Mot. 4.) In fact, sales in 2005 for Zocor reached $3 billion. (Id.) In this case, intervenor-defendant Ivax Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Ivax") and its parent, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. ("Teva") were the first applicants to file a Paragraph IV certification, and thus were entitled to 180 days of exclusivity for the sale of generic simvastatin in 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg dosages. Intervenor-defendant Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited ("Ranbaxy") was the first to take advantage of the 180-day exclusivity for the 80 mg strength. Specifically, intervenor-defendants filed a Paragraph IV certification as to U.S. Patent No. RE 36,481 ("the '481 patent"), and No. RE 36,520 ("the '520 patent"), and a Paragraph III certification as to U.S. Patent No. 4,444,784 ("the '784 patent"), which expired on June 23, 2006.*fn2 The FDA subsequently purported to remove the '481 and '520 patents from the Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Ratings ("Orange Book"), thereby depriving Ivax and Ranbaxy of the 180 days of exclusivity to which each was otherwise eligible. Ivax and Ranbaxy both filed citizen petitions seeking the re-listing of the '481 and '520 patents and seeking their award of 180 days of marketing exclusivity. The Federal Drug Administration ("FDA") denied those petitions on October 24, 2005. (See Ivax's Opp'n Ex. 1.)

Ivax and Ranbaxy each filed suit against the FDA and the other federal defendants named in this case (collectively "FDA"), and those suits were consolidated. Ranbaxy Labs., Ltd. v. Leavitt, No. 05-1838. On April 30, Judge Roberts of this Court granted Ivax and Ranbaxy's motions for summary judgment, holding that the agency had improperly denied their citizen petitions. The FDA subsequently filed a notice of appeal which is pending before the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

On June 22, 2006, Sandoz, Inc. ("Sandoz"), another putative manufacturer of generic Zocor, filed this action and sought entry of a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO"). Sandoz challenges the FDA's relisting of the two patents in the Orange Book and the agency's requirement that all pending Abbreviated New Drug Applications ("ANDA") contain parargraph IV certifications. After hearing oral arguments, this Court denied [6] plaintiff's motion for emergency equitable relief. Sandoz, Inc. v. FDA et al., No. 06-1134, (June 23, 2006). In doing so, the Court also deemed plaintiff's TRO motion as its Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

LEGAL STANDARD

Preliminary injunctive relief is "an extraordinary remedy and must be sparingly granted." Bristol Myers Squibb Co. v. Shalala, 923 F. Supp. 212, 215 (D.D.C. 1996) (citing Dorfmann v. Boozer, 414 F.2d 1168 (D.C. Cir. 1969)). In addressing plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction, the Court should consider following factors: (1) the plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits; (2) the threat of irreparable injury to the plaintiff absent the injunction; (3) the possibility of substantial harm to other parties caused by issuance of the injunction; and (4) the public interest. Nat'l Wildlife Fed. v. Burford, 835 F.2d 305, 333 (D.C. Cir. 1987). No one factor is determinative and the Court should balance plaintiff's showings among the four factors on a sliding scale. Mova Pharm. Corp. v. Shalala, 140 F.3d 1060, 1066 (D.C. Cir. 1998). Moreover, preliminary injunctive relief is appropriate only when the party seeking the relief carries its burden of persuasion by a clear showing. SeeMazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997).

ANALYSIS

A. Likelihood of Success on the Merits

Though plaintiff argues many claims against defendants, the Court in Ranbaxy has considered and rejected plaintiff's arguments based on the "plain language" of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ("FDCA"). Thus, FDA's refusal to give final approval to Sandoz's simvastatin application until Ivax and Ranbaxy have exhausted their 180 days of exclusivity is not a discretionary act to be reviewed again, but was compelled by this Court's ...


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