About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Structure-Inactivity Relationship Would Be More Like It | Main | Of All Sad Words. . . »

October 23, 2002

The Latest Mudfight

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

Today's court battle is between Pfizer and two rival drug teams. On Tuesday, Pfizer was issued a US patent relating to Viagra, and that same day they filed lawsuits against Eli Lilly and Icos (one the one hand) along with Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline on the other. Both are developing rivals to Viagra (Cialis and Levitra, respectively.) Both work on exactly the same enzyme, phosphodiesterase-5, and it's the PDE-5 action that Pfizer used as the ground for the suits.

The patent has claims for some chemical matter, and several specific compounds. Their ace, though, is near the end of the list: they claim the treatment of erectile disfunction by administering a PDE-5 inhibitor. Any inhibitor. You can make a compound that hits that enzyme, says Pfizer, but if you treat erectile disfunction with it then you can expect to hear from their lawyers.

This is a pure "method of treatment" patent, and regular readers will know that I don't have a very high opinion of those, on principle. The interesting thing is, Pfizer may not have that high an opinion of their chances here. They've already lost to Lilly and Icos in the UK over just this same issue, and the European Patent Office followed suit last year, citing that decision. The argument was that this mode of action was already known before the patent was applied for, and that'll surely be the defense that Lilly/Icos and Bayer/GSK will use here.

So why is Pfizer even trying? Easy: they'll be trying to tie things up so thoroughly that their competitors will be delayed in getting their drugs to market. When you consider that their legal bills will be perhaps a few weeks worth of Viagra profits (at most,) then it looks pretty cost-effective to make the attempt.

And lest anyone think that I'm just picking on Pfizer, I should add that plenty of other companies in the industry have patents that could allow them to do the same thing in such a situation. And most, probably all, of them would. After all, it makes financial sense. But I have to say, I'd like to live in a world, and work in an industry, where it didn't.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Patents and IP



Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry