Pharmaceutical Lifecycle Management & IP acquisitions

The recent study which I undertook on pharmaceutical lifecycle management yielded some interesting findings apart from decreasing periods of monopoly and earlier patent filings by non-innovators (both of which I have previously written about). There are more articles to come in this series, but it’s timely to raise an interesting observation I made along the way.

One of the many other interesting observations was the way that the period of monopoly can be enhanced by strategic acquisition of third party intellectual property (in this context, read ‘patents’). It’s been known for a while that such acquisitions might be useful, but what’s interesting is that they are really coming to the fore.

A classic example of this was Servier‘s acquisition of a host of Perindopril (Coversyl) patents owned by Lupin last April. Here’s an example of a generic company innovating around the synthetic process, filing patents and realising their commercial opportunity by selling the patents to the innovator (rather than through sales of the drug as a generic alternative). A nice alternativeto the straight generic play.

Well, Servier obviously liked what they saw, because it has just been reported by Forbes and the Business Standard that Servier has paid another 20 million Euro for more Lupin Perindopril patents.

This strategy only takes a fairly routine patent surveillance program by the innovator on its own product and a willingness to undertake due diligence on anything of interest. Interestingly, it doesn’t have to only apply to innovators. I can imagine situations where one generic will acquire patents from another, or, heretical as it now seems, several generics may form a patent pool in order to collectively leverage their IP. (This is common in other industries and used to great effect.)

2 Comments on “Pharmaceutical Lifecycle Management & IP acquisitions

  1. Interesting comments Duncan.  It is clear that Servier are defending their monopoly as best they can, but I wonder if the additional patents are perhaps broad applications that can be used as a stick to ward off other generics who had not considered them a threat in the hands of the original patentee… 
    As we can see, some companies have launched Perindopril where the revocation of the alpha polymorph patent allows, suggesting that this may happen in other countries, so perhaps Servier are strengthening their armoury by using weaker patents/ applications in the hands of a financially more capable company.  i.e. its not what you’ve got, it’s how you use it…
    Your point about generic/generic deals is also very valid, although many seem to just cross-license rather than acquire the patents so maximise the market for each party.  On the other extreme some smaller companies are acquired on the strength of one key patent that may allow generic access for one product, blocking all others.
    It’s amazing how the value of a company and its assets can turn on the basis of a third party patent litigation…

  2. Thanks Leighton – great commentsI am sure that you are right that Servier has acquired the patents to add to their enforcement strategy.  In some countries you can still get an ex parte interim injunction – so merely having another patent could be well worthwhile.This is a double edged sword for Servier – they will use greater resources to enforce them, so the patents are now more concerning to other generics than they were in the hands of Lupin (who had much less to gain by asserting them).  However, Lupin would have taken a different approach to drafting and prosecuting them and that is where generic competitors will no doubt find some very useful material.Deals between generics – I can see some strategic merit in a collection of them with good IP on a product forming an alliance rather than the much blander cross-licenses that occur today.  Will be interesting to see if they take it up.I agree that it is quite interesting to watch fluctuations of company and asset values based on 3rd party IP litigation.  Planning for this and optimising it should really be a core component of a good IP Strategy.

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