A federal judge has overturned a $176.5 million jury verdict against Eli Lilly and Co., finding that the Indianapolis-based drugmaker did not infringe on the patents of a competitor in developing a treatment for migraine headaches.
The decision represents a rare case of a judge overturning a jury verdict and is a major win for Lilly, which argued strenuously that its Emgality drug is substantially different than Anjovy, a drug sold by competitor Teva Pharmaceuticals, based in Israel.
Teva had argued that its corporate affiliate, Labrys Biologics Inc., made a major breakthrough in research for migraine treatment, and its biologic product with an active ingredient, fremanezumab, was covered by numerous patents.
Lilly contended that the antibody in its Emgality drug differed from Anjovy’s antibody. It added that Teva’s patent claims were too broad, attempting to cover all antibodies in the class that could discovered for treating headaches.
Both drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 13 days apart in September 2018 and have a similar mechanism of action, inhibiting the calcitonin gene-related peptides, or CGRPs, that cause migraine headaches, according to Fierce Pharma, an industry news site.
A jury in November found for Teva and awarded it $36.7 million in royalty damages, $90 million in lost profits and $49.8 million in future lost profits.
Judge Allison D. Burroughs of U.S. District Court in Massachusetts overturned that decision in a 55-page ruling this week. She said that even viewing the evidence “in the light most favorable to the verdict,” the evidence was insufficient to claim the entire genus of humanized anti-CGRP antagonist antibodies for the treatment of headaches.
“The Court does not reach this decision nor overturn a jury verdict lightly,” she wrote.
She added: “The court cannot conclude that the disclosure of a single species [of antibodies] is enough to support the very broad scope of these asserted claims.”
Lilly’s Emgality rang up worldwide sales of $651 million last year, compared to $342 million for Teva’s Anjovy.