CEO says Amgen not putting patients first in patent
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[January 10, 2017]
By Bill Berkrot
(Reuters) - Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Chief
Executive Len Schleifer on Monday ripped into Amgen Inc for its
insistence on blocking sales of a rival Regeneron cholesterol drug while
the appeals process in a patent infringement case plays out.
A federal judge last week handed Regeneron and its partner Sanofi a
stunning setback by banning sales of their LDL-lowering medicine
Praluent, finding it infringed patents held by Amgen on its Repatha
Regeneron and Sanofi were given 30 days before the ban takes effect
to give them time to appeal. That was extended to 45 days on Monday.
Speaking at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San
Francisco, Schleifer said Amgen had refused a request to delay any
ban of Praluent sales until the appeal is heard, even though the
judge in her ruling had said competition among the two drugs was in
the public interest.
"If they really cared about patients they wouldn't rip this drug
from patients," the outspoken Schleifer said.
"To say that you cannot wait, is that putting patients first? It's
no small wonder that our industry isn't beloved," he continued.
"If this industry is to survive, we have got to do the right thing
by patients ... and still adequately reward our investors,"
Earlier at the conference, Amgen CEO Robert Bradway reiterated that
his company intended to defend its patents. He declined to say
whether Amgen would consider a settlement in the case.
Sanofi and Regeneron had no right to sell Praluent, Amgen said in an
Amgen also said the companies were afforded a full and fair
opportunity to challenge the validity of Amgen's patents at trial
and the jury determined Amgen's patents to be valid.
The expensive injectable drugs from both companies dramatically
lower "bad" LDL cholesterol by blocking a protein called PCSK9. Both
companies are expecting data this year that is likely to show that
the drugs also cut the risk of heart attacks and deaths.
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Amgen's Bradway said he does not expect that data to be added to the
Repatha label until 2018, and Amgen would not be allowed to promote
those heart benefits until they are in the label.
Without proof that the drugs prevent heart attacks, health insurers
have been denying payment for three quarters of Repatha
prescriptions written, Amgen said.
The drug had just $40 million in third quarter sales. Amgen said if
all Repatha prescriptions written had been filled it would be well
on its way to being a $1 billion drug.
Regeneron has run into similar resistance to Praluent with insurers
refusing to pay for it.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sunil Nair)
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