In a recent case involving Apotex’s proposed biosimilar product to Amgen’s Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim). Amgen sought a preliminary injunction to enforce the Biologic Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) provision that requires an applicant to give notice 180 days before marketing an FDA-licensed product.1 In Amgen v. Sandoz, a divided Federal Circuit held that “the 180-day period runs from post-licensure notice.”2 In that case, the biosimilar applicant defaulted on the statutory process for exchanging patent information and channeling patent litigation (“information exchange”) required by 42 U.S.C. § 262(l), by not providing the reference product sponsor with a copy of the biosimilar application, as required by 42 U.S.C. § 262(l)(2)(A).
In the instant case, Apotex argued that the commercial marketing provision of the BPCIA was not mandatory because it did engage in the information exchange.3 Apotex filed a biologics application for Amgen’s Neulasta® in October 2014, and the FDA accepted the application for review on December 15, 2014.4 Apotex and Amgen engaged in the required information exchange, during which Apotex provided notice of future commercial marketing pursuant to paragraph (l)(8)(A) of the BPCIA, even though Apotex lacked an FDA license.5 In October 2015, Amgen asked the district court to issue a preliminary injunction that would require Apotex to provide paragraph (l)(8)(A) notice “if an when it receives a license, and to delay any commercial marketing from that notice.”6 The district court agreed with Amgen, and granted a preliminary injunction.7
On appeal, a unanimous Federal Circuit affirmed the district court ruling, and determined that the notice provision is mandatory regardless of whether the applicant provides the paragraph (2)(A) notice that begins the information-exchange process.8 The court also rejected Apotex’s argument that its decision would give reference product sponsors 12.5 years of exclusivity, rather than the 12 years envisioned by the statute.9
The court stated:
[I]t is implicit in the Biologics Act that any such delay beyond 12 years should occur less and less as time goes by. Doubtless, there will be some exclusivity periods beyond 12 years in the early years of the Biologics Act, as biosimilars are introduced for reference products licensed well before the Act was adopted in 2010. But as time passes, more and more of the reference products will be newer, and a biosimilar-product applicant, entitled to file an application a mere four years after licensure of the reference product … can seek approval long before the 12-year exclusivity period is up.10
The court concluded that the purpose of paragraph (8)(A) is “to ensure that, starting from when the applicant’s product, uses, and processes are fixed by the license, the necessary decision-making regarding further patent litigation is not conducted under time pressure that will impair its fairness and accuracy,” covers applicants that file paragraph (2)(A) notices as well as those who do not.11