Bayer Pharma AG v. Watson Laboratories, Inc., No. 16-2169 (Fed. Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
In 2003, the FDA granted Bayer approval to market vardenafil hydrochloride trihydrate to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) under the name Levitra. Vardenafil belongs to a class of ED drugs called phosphodiesterase inhibitors. When the FDA approved Levitra, two other phosphodiesterase inhibitors were already on the market: Pfizer launched Viagra in 1998, and Eli Lilly launched Cialis in 2003. Each is formulated as immediate-release tablets that are swallowed whole. Bayer’s 950 patent issued in 2013, claiming priority to 2005; it is directed to a formulation of vardenafil as “an uncoated tablet which disintegrates rapidly in the mouth,” vardenafil ODT, which Bayer markets as Staxyn. Watson filed an FDA Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) seeking approval to market a generic version of Staxyn. Bayer alleged infringement. The Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s holding Watson failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that two claims would have been obvious, 35 U.S.C. 103. The district court clearly erred in finding a skilled artisan would not have been motivated to use the claim elements to formulate an ED drug as a fast-dissolving tablet; the claims would have been obvious.