Belcher Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Hospira, Inc., No. 20-1799 (Fed. Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Epinephrine (adrenaline), a hormone that has been on the market since approximately 1938, is used for various medical purposes. It degrades by racemization and oxidation. A 1986 publication taught that “there is an optimum pH at which racemization and oxidation can be balanced to minimize loss of intact drug by these two routes.” In 2012, Belcher submitted New Drug Application (NDA) for a 1 mg/mL injectable l-epinephrine formulation. The NDA was literature-based; Belcher did not perform any studies on its epinephrine formulation. Belcher responded to FDA inquiries concerning pH levels and racemization. In 2014, Belcher filed an application entitled “More Potent and Less Toxic Formulations of Epinephrine and Methods of Medical Use,” resulting in the 197. Hospira then submitted an NDA seeking approval of a 0.1 mg/mL injectable l-epinephrine formulation, including a Paragraph IV certification (21 U.S.C. 355(b)(2)(A)(iv)) alleging that the patent’s claims are invalid, unenforceable, and/or not infringed. Belcher sued Hospira for infringement.
The Federal Circuit affirmed a finding that the patent was unenforceable for inequitable conduct. Belcher’s Chief Science Officer withheld material information about the pH range and the impurity levels from the Patent and Trademark Office. Belcher’s alleged critical improvement over the prior art was already within the public domain, just not before the examiner. Belcher’s officer acted with intent to deceive.