Court ruling clears way for Novartis' low-cost biotech drug

Court ruling clears way for Novartis' low-cost biotech drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Novartis can commence selling its lower-cost copy of an Amgen Inc. drug in September, rejecting a bid to further delay the launch of the knock-off biotech medication.

Novartis received federal approval in March to sell its cheaper copy of Amgen's Neupogen, which is used to boost blood cells in cancer patients. It was the first time the Food & Drug Administration had approved a lower-cost copy of a biotech drug.

But the launch of Novartis' Zarxio has been delayed by litigation brought by Amgen Inc.

p>On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected Amgen's claims of unfair competition yet moreover said Novartis would have to wait until Sept. 2 before selling its drug.

The delayed launch stems from a provision of the law governing approval of biosimilars, the industry term for the quasi-generic biotech drugs. The court ruling handed down Tuesday states that companies marketing new biosimilars must donate 180 days advance notice to the original drugmaker after receiving FDA approval. Novartis had argued that the 180 days' notice could be given prior to FDA approval.

The court ruling means biotech makers like Amgen Inc. can expect six additional months of exclusive marketing for their drugs even after a biosimilar is approved.

In Europe, Novartis has sold its version of Neupogen, called Zarzio there, since 2009. The drugmaker moreover markets two other biosimilar drugs in approximately 60 countries.

Other blockbuster biotech drugs expected to face biosimilar competition in the U.S. include anti-inflammatory drugs Remicade & Humira & cancer drugs Herceptin & Avastin.

NovartisAmgen Incfederal appeals courtFood & Drug Administration

Source: “Associated Press”

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