Section 505(b)(2) of the FFDCA was enacted as part of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, otherwise known as the Hatch-Waxman Act. Section 505(b)(2) permits the submission of a NDA where at least some of the information required for approval comes from studies not conducted by or for the applicant and for which the applicant has not obtained a right of reference. For example, the Hatch-Waxman Act permits an applicant to rely upon the FDA’s findings of safety and effectiveness for an approved product. The FDA may also require companies to perform one or more additional studies or measurements to support the change from the approved product. The FDA may then approve the new formulation for all or some of the label indications for which the referenced product has been approved, or a new indication sought by the Section 505(b)(2) applicant.
To the extent that the Section 505(b)(2) applicant is relying on the FDA’s findings for an already-approved product, the applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the approved product in the FDA’s Orange Book publication. Specifically, the applicant must certify that: (1) the required patent information has not been filed (paragraph I certification); (2) the listed patent has expired (paragraph II certification); (3) the listed patent has not expired, but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration (paragraph III certification); or (4) the listed patent is invalid or will not be infringed by the manufacture, use or sale of the new product (paragraph IV certification). If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents, the Section 505(b)(2) application will not be approved until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired, and once any pediatric exclusivity expires. The Section 505(b)(2) application may also not be approved until any non-patent exclusivity, such as exclusivity for obtaining approval of a new chemical entity, listed in the Orange Book for the referenced product has expired.
If the applicant has provided a paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the paragraph IV certification to the NDA holder and patent owner once the NDA has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA holder and patent owner may then initiate a legal challenge to the paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days of their receipt of a paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the Section 505(b)(2) NDA until the earliest of 30 months, expiration of the patent, settlement of the lawsuit or a decision in an infringement case that is favorable to the Section 505(b)(2) applicant. Thus, a Section 505(b)(2) applicant may invest a significant amount of time and expense in the development of its products only to be subject to significant delay and patent litigation before its products may be commercialized. Alternatively, if the NDA holder or patent owner does not file a patent infringement lawsuit within the required 45-day period, the applicant’s NDA will not be subject to the 30-month stay.
Notwithstanding the approval of many products by the FDA pursuant to Section 505(b)(2), over the last few years, certain brand-name pharmaceutical companies and others have objected to the FDA’s interpretation of Section 505(b)(2). If the FDA changes its interpretation of Section 505(b)(2), this could delay or even prevent the FDA from approving any Section 505(b)(2) NDA that we submit.
Even if we obtain patents to protect our products, those patents may not be sufficiently broad and others could compete with us.
We have filed various U.S. and foreign patent applications with respect to the products and technologies under our development, and the USPTO and foreign patent offices have issued patents with respect to our products and technologies. These patent applications include international applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Our pending patent applications, those we may file in the future and those we may license from third parties, may not result in the USPTO or any foreign patent office issuing patents. Also, if patent rights covering our products are not sufficiently broad, they may not provide us with sufficient proprietary protection or competitive advantages against competitors with similar products and technologies. Furthermore, if the USPTO or foreign patent offices issue patents to us or our licensors, others may challenge the patents or circumvent the patents, or the patent office or the courts may invalidate the patents. Thus, any patents we own or license from or to third parties may not provide any protection against competitors.
Furthermore, the life of our patents is limited. Such patents, which include relevant foreign patents, expire on various dates. We have filed, and when possible and appropriate, will file, other patent applications with respect to our product candidates and processes in the U.S. and in foreign countries. We may not be able to develop additional products or processes that will be patentable or additional patents may not be issued to us. See also “Risk Factors – If We Cannot Meet Requirements Under our License Agreements, We Could Lose the Rights to our Products.”