Record $2.5 Billion Patent Verdict.
A record $2.5 billion patent verdict, in the U.S. history of Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Gilead Sciences Inc., the District court of Delaware, Wilmington passed the judgment in favour of Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC on 16th December, 2016.
The defendant was directed by a federal jury to pay $2.54 billion to Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC for using a patented invention as the basis for its blockbuster drug for the potentially deadly liver disease Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver and can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. The disease affects 130 million to 150 million globally, according to the World Health Organization. The patent, issued in 2009, is for a compound that Idenix unit contends is the basis for all major treatments for hepatitis C, including the ones made by Gilead.
Gilead and Idenix have been engaged in a global fight since 2012 over who was first to invent certain compounds for treating hepatitis C. Gilead manufactures the drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni. Sovaldi is based on the compound sofosbuvir, while Harvoni combines sofosbuvir with the compound ledipasvir. Sovaldi was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2013 and Harvoni got regulatory go-ahead in 2014. Idenix’s drug, Zepatier, was approved in 2016, despite being the pioneers in the conception and articulation of the components.
It is pertinent to note here that Idenix’s patent was infringed by Gilead’s ‘Sovaldi’ and ‘Harvoni’, which account for more than half the drugmaker’s revenue. The judge set out a case of wilful infringement in the said matter and directed that Gilead owed 10% royalties on $25.4 billion in total sales for the two drugs.
Gilead contended that Idenix never adequately described what it claimed to have invented, and the patent did not contain a novel idea as the essential requirement.
In a statement following the verdict, Gilead quantified that Idenix’s U.S patent is invalid and since they made no contribution and assumed none of the risk in the discovery and development of Sofosbuvir and its metabolites, the Plaintiff is not entitled to damages. Gilead added that the verdict doesn’t affect its ability to sell its products.
Merck shares rose 0.9% to $62.37 in regular trading and reached as high as $63.40 in after-hours trading. Gilead shares fell 0.2% to $75.55 in regular trading and reached a low of $73.20 in after-hours trading.
This is the second trial between the two companies. The first, over different patents, ended in a misfortune for Idenix.