The UK Supreme Court ruled Thursday against pharmaceutical company Pfizer in a patent case over its drug Lyrica.
The case involved secondary usage of a known and patented pharmaceutical compound—applying an already patented pharmaceutical compound to a new use.
The case was a matter of patent infringement over a chemical known by the technical name of: (S)-3-(aminomethyl)-5-methylhexanoic acid. The compound was patented and marketed by Pfizer subsidiary Warren-Lambert under the name Lyrica. The compound was used to treat epilepsy and neurotic pain. The patent expired in the UK on May 17, 2013. Subsequently, two companies, Generics (UK) Ltd (trading as Mylan) and Actavis Group PTC EHF, obtained authorization by the EU to market the compound for application to both epilepsy and general anxiety disorders. Warren-Lambert claimed Mylan and Actavis infringed on Warren-Lambert’s patent, as it was applied for treatment against neurotic pain.
The Supreme Court noted two tests for secondary usage. The first was if the product was patented, it would have been made known to the public already and therefore, considered not novel. The second obstacle, in accordance with Article 52(4) of the European Patent Convention and section 4(2) of the UK Patents Act 1977, prevents the granting of patents for treatments applied to humans or animals.
The court found that Warren-Lambert lacked standing for its claims because the defendants’ products were applied to different medical conditions.