FDA Issues Response on Generic KYTRIL; Teva’s Argument Takes the Day and the Company Gets 180-Day Exclusivity

January 22, 2008

We previously reported on FDA’s request for public comment to help resolve 180-day exclusivity issues concerning a generic version of the antinauseant and antiemetic drug KYTRIL (granisetron HCl) Injection.  Specifically, in October 2007, FDA established a public docket in response to a letter from Teva Parenteral Medicines (“Teva”), in which the company argued that “the plain language and structure of the [FDC Act] compel the conclusion that Teva is entitled to 180-day exclusivity because Teva is the first applicant that submitted a substantially complete paragraph IV ANDA.”  Earlier today, FDA posted its January 17, 2008 response concluding that Teva did not forfeit 180-day exclusivity.  This conclusion had been anticipated, because earlier this month Teva announced the approval of the company’s granisetron HCl ANDA with 180-day exclusivity. 

At issue in this case are the “failure to market” 180-day exclusivity forfeiture provisions at FDC Act § 505(j)(5)(D)(i)(I) added by the Medicare Modernization Act (“MMA”) in 2003.  Under these provisions, a generic applicant whose ANDA contains a paragraph IV patent certification and who is a “first applicant” eligible for 180-day exclusivity forfeits eligibility for such exclusivity if the firm fails to market the drug by the later of:

(aa) the earlier of the date that is –

(AA) 75 days after the date on which the approval of the application of the first applicant is made effective under subparagraph (B)(iii); or

(BB) 30 months after the date of submission of the application of the first applicant; or

(bb) . . . the date that is 75 days after the date as of which, as to each of the patents with respect to which the first applicant submitted and lawfully maintained a certification qualifying the first applicant for the 180-day exclusivity period under subparagraph (B)(iv), at least 1 of the following has occurred:

(AA) In an infringement action brought against that applicant with respect to the patent or in a declaratory judgment action brought by that applicant with respect to the patent, a court enters a final decision from which no appeal (other than a petition to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari) has been or can be taken that the patent is invalid or not infringed.

(BB) In an infringement action or a declaratory judgment action described in subitem (AA), a court signs a settlement order or consent decree that enters a final judgment that includes a finding that the patent is invalid or not infringed.

(CC) The patent information submitted under [FDC Act § 505(b) or (c)] is withdrawn by the holder of the application approved under [FDC Act § 505(b)].

In May 2004, Teva submitted the first ANDA to FDA containing a paragraph IV certification for a generic version of KYTRIL.  The application also contained a paragraph III certification (date of patent expiration) and a “section viii statement” to a method-of-use patent.  Roche, the NDA holder/patent owner, did not sue Teva (or any subsequent ANDA applicant) for patent infringement, and FDA tentatively approved Teva’s ANDA in August 2005.  The patent subject to the paragraph III certification expired in December 2007; however, the 30-month period described in FDC Act § 505(j)(5)(D)(i)(I)(aa)(BB) above expired in November 2006. 

Teva argued that despite the expiration of the 30-month period, the firm remained eligible for 180-day exclusivity, which would be triggered by Teva’s commercial marketing of the drug.  Specifically, Teva’s letter states:

[T]he plain language and structure of the [FDC Act] compel the conclusion that Teva is entitled to 180-day exclusivity because Teva is the first applicant that submitted a substantially complete paragraph IV ANDA . . . .  Teva’s exclusivity has not been forfeited . . . because there is a continuing possibility of ANDA-based patent litigation that could result in a “later” forfeiture event under [FDC Act § 505(j)(5)(D)(i)(I)]. . . .

[The FDC Act] requires FDA to determine which is “the later of” (1) a determinate forfeiture trigger . . . “or” (2) a contingent forfeiture trigger . . . .  But there is no conceivable way for FDA to determine which of those 2 potential triggers occurs “later” until (a) one of the contingencies that could give rise to a forfeiture trigger [under FDC Act § FDC Act § 505(j)(5)(D)(i)(I)(bb)] has occurred, or (b) none of the contingencies can occur.  After all, it is impossible to know whether a contingent event has occurred before it does occur — and twice as hard to determine that such an event will not occur until it no longer can occur.

Teva echoed this argument in the company’s comments submitted to the docket FDA established to solicit public comment on acarbose (PRECOSE) 180-day exclusivity issues.

FDA’s granisetron docket response agrees with Teva’s argument.  FDA states:

We find that under the plain language of the statute, 180-day exclusivity is not forfeited for failure to market when an event under subpart (aa) has occurred, but – as in this case – none of the events in subpart (bb) has occurred.  The “failure to market” provision results in forfeiture when there are two dates on the basis of which FDA may identify the “later” event as described in section 505(j)(5)(D)(i)(I).  The provision does not effect a forfeiture when an event under subpart (aa) has occurred, but no event under subpart (bb) has yet occurred.

This is not a situation in which it would be impossible for a later event to occur. Although at the time FDA made its exclusivity decision, there was no litigation regarding the ‘548 patent pending that could result in a forfeiture event under subitem (AA) or (BB) of subpart (bb), there was nevertheless the possibility that either an additional ANDA applicant would be sued as a result of a paragraph IV certification to the patent or one of the applicants would bring a declaratory judgment action against the NDA holder or patent owner. Either of these actions could result in a forfeiture event.  In addition, the patent could be withdrawn by the NDA holder, resulting in a forfeiture event under subitem (CC).  Because at least one of the events described in subpart (bb) could still have occurred and, if it did, would necessarily occur “later” than December 1, 2006, Teva did not forfeit its exclusivity.

FDA also states in a footnote that:

Inherent in the structure of the “failure to market” forfeiture provisions is the possibility that a first applicant would be able to enter into a settlement agreement with the NDA holder or patent owner in which a court does not enter a final judgment of invalidity or non-infringement (i.e., without a forfeiture event under subpart (bb) occurring), and that subsequent applicants would be unable to initiate a forfeiture with a declaratory judgment action.  This inability to force a forfeiture of 180-day exclusivity could result in delays in the approval of otherwise approvable ANDAs owned by applicants that would market their generic drugs if they could but obtain approval.  This potential scenario is not one for which the statute currently provides a remedy.

FDA has not yet issued responses to other public dockets involving 180-day exclusivity issues – namely ramipril and acarbose.  We understand, however, that a decision on ramipril is imminent; particularly because FDA’s latest Orange Book Cumulative Supplement shows a period of 180-day exclusivity for the drug products covered under Cobalt’s ANDA (identified as “PC” or “Patent Challenge” exclusivity). 

By Kurt R. Karst

Categories: Hatch-Waxman