June 12, 2013 | By Márcio Barra
The $2.15 billion settlement is the result of a legal battle waged by Pfizer and Nycomed over Teva’s and Sun Pharma patent infringement on the patent for the Pfizer drug Protonix (pantoprazole), an acid reflux medication. The settlement comes after a nearly 10-year legal battle in which Pfizer and Nycomed sought to enforce the patent for its blockbuster acid reflux medicine.
Protonix recorded peak annual revenue of almost $2 billion in 2007, before sales plunged to just $395 million in 2008, following the launch of generic versions by Teva in 2007 and Sun Pharma in 2008, ahead of Protonix’s active ingredient patent expiry in January 2011.The patent was held by Nycomed, now a Takeda subsidiary, and the drug was licensed to Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer.
The parties reached the settlement shortly after the commencement of a trial to determine damages. Takeda will receive 36%, about $774 million from the settlement, with the remaining 64% going to Pfizer. Teva will pay $1.6 billion, half this year and the rest by October 2014. Indian generics maker Sun Pharma also launched a Protonix generic and will pay $550 million in damages in 2013.
This is the first occurrence of generic drugmakers paying damages for marketing a copy of an existing drug for which the patent has yet to expire.