Barr Laboratories, Inc., In re, No. 90-1402

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtBefore SILBERMAN, WILLIAMS and RANDOLPH; STEPHEN F. WILLIAMS
Citation930 F.2d 72
PartiesIn re BARR LABORATORIES, INC., Petitioners.
Decision Date23 April 1991
Docket NumberNo. 90-1402

Page 72

930 F.2d 72
289 U.S.App.D.C. 187
In re BARR LABORATORIES, INC., Petitioners.
No. 90-1402.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued Feb. 19, 1991.
Decided April 16, 1991.
As Amended April 23, 1991.

Page 73

On Petition for Writ of Mandamus.

Eric L. Hirschhorn, with whom Bruce L. Downey, Washington, D.C., was on the brief for petitioners.

Jacob Laufer of the bar of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, pro hac vice, by special leave of the Court, with whom John M. Desiderio, James S. Rubin and Steven Shapiro, New York City, were on the brief, for intervenor.

Gerald C. Kell, Atty., Dept. of Justice with whom Stuart M. Gerson, Asst. Atty. Gen. and John R. Fleder, Washington, D.C., Director, Office of Consumer Litigation Dept. of Justice and Eric M. Blumberg, Rockville, Md., Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement, Food and Drug Admin. were on the brief, for respondent.

Before SILBERMAN, WILLIAMS and RANDOLPH, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge STEPHEN F. WILLIAMS.

STEPHEN F. WILLIAMS, Circuit Judge:

Barr Laboratories has filed a petition in this court, see Telecommunications Research & Action Center v. FCC, 750 F.2d 70, 74-79 (D.C.Cir.1984) ("TRAC"), seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the Food and Drug Administration to act promptly in either approving or disapproving 23 of Barr's abbreviated new drug applications and abbreviated antibiotic applications (collectively, "generic drug applications"). Though we agree with Barr that FDA's sluggish pace violates a statutory deadline, we conclude that this is not an appropriate case for equitable relief. While judicial intervention could assist Barr, it would likely impose offsetting burdens on equally worthy generic drug producers, equally wronged by the agency's delay. Moreover, while prompt disposition of Barr's applications would benefit users of generic drugs, so would the disposition of other companies' applications, which relief for Barr would further delay.

* * * * * *

Under a 1984 amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. Sec. 355 (1988), a producer of generic drugs may file applications that rely heavily on approved applications for "listed" (generally name-brand) drugs. Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, Pub.L. No. 98-417, 98 Stat. 1585. This expedited process permits generic drug applications to piggy-back on clinical findings that FDA has already embraced. Accordingly, the application must demonstrate, among other things, that the generic drug is the "bioequivalent" of the listed drug and that it is properly manufactured and labeled. See 21 U.S.C. Sec. 355(j)(2)(A).

Page 74

Congress specified that "[w]ithin one hundred and eighty days of the initial receipt of [a generic drug] application ... or within such additional period as may be agreed upon by the Secretary and the applicant, the Secretary shall approve or disapprove the application." 21 U.S.C. Sec. 355(j)(4)(A). Under regulations not challenged here, an applicant that files a "major" amendment to its application, either at the agency's behest or on its own initiative, is deemed to have consented to a new review period that may last up to an additional 180 days. See 21 C.F.R. Secs. 314.60, 314.100(c) (1990).

Barr claims that the FDA has repeatedly violated the 180-day deadline in processing its generic drug applications. According to Barr, the agency has (in some cases) ignored the deadline altogether and (in others) improperly skirted it by waiting until the end of the 180-day period before provisionally "denying" the applications on the basis of spurious technicalities.

The FDA contests Barr's story only in the details. Whereas Barr calculates that the FDA took an average of 336 days to process past generic drug applications, Pet.Br. at 8, the FDA sets the figure at 262 days and estimates the response times for certain pending applications at between 389 and 669 days, Resp.Br. at 7. In other words, by the FDA's own account, its expected future delay will range from more than double the allotted time to nearly quadruple. Even in the FDA's view, the delays are severe. It explains the lag as the product of a personnel crisis that began in the summer of 1988, when scandal beset its generic drug division, forcing out some employees and diverting others from their usual work. See Burlington Declaration, Exhibit B, at 9-15.

Effectively conceding that it has violated the 180-day provision, the government answers that the deadline is only "directory". It reasons that because Congress did not specify a "consequence" for noncompliance, the provision--though seemingly mandatory--is only a kind of policy recommendation. The cases the government cites for this idea, e.g., Brock v. Pierce County, 476 U.S. 253, 259, 106 S.Ct. 1834, 1838, 90 L.Ed.2d 248 (1986); Ralpho v. Bell, 569 F.2d 607, 626-28 (D.C.Cir.1977); Fort Worth Nat'l Corp. v. FSLIC, 469 F.2d 47, 58 (5th Cir.1972); Maryland Casualty Co. v. Cardillo, 99 F.2d 432, 434 (D.C.Cir.1938), are inapposite. All of them considered the separate problem of whether, as a consequence of missing a relevant statutory deadline, an agency loses jurisdiction over a case or issue; all (unsurprisingly) rejected that view. None of the cases considered the problem at issue here: whether an agency acts lawfully in ignoring a facially mandatory statutory deadline. In fact, the court in Fort Worth suggested that, in general, the "proper remedy" of a party seeking to enforce a statutory deadline is not to...

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  • Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Bureau of Land Mgmt., No. C 03–02509 SI
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • April 3, 2014
    ...resources in the optimal way. Such budget flexibility as Congress has allowed the agency is not for [courts] to hijack.” In re Barr Labs., 930 F.2d 72, 75 (D.C.Cir.1991). If the Court ordered the FWS to complete the PMV recovery plan within two years, as plaintiffs 35 F.Supp.3d 1155request,......
  • Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Bureau of Land Mgmt., No. C 03–02509 SI
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • April 3, 2014
    ...resources in the optimal way. Such budget flexibility as Congress has allowed the agency is not for [courts] to hijack.” In re Barr Labs., 930 F.2d 72, 75 (D.C.Cir.1991). If the Court ordered the FWS to complete the PMV recovery plan within two years, as plaintiffs [35 F.Supp.3d 1155] reque......
  • Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. U.S. E.P.A., Nos. 90-70671
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 4, 1992
    ...EPA points to cases recognizing factors indicating that equitable relief may be inappropriate. See, e.g., In re Barr Laboratories, Inc., 930 F.2d 72, 74 (D.C.Cir.) (agency's choice of priorities is an important factor in considering whether to grant equitable relief), cert. denied, --- U.S.......
  • Janssen Prods., L.P. v. Lupin Ltd., No. 2:10–CV–05954 WHW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • August 14, 2014
    ...will be harmed by precluding generic drugs at lower prices. See Joint Proposed Findings of Fact ¶ D1154 (quoting In re Barr Labs., Inc., 930 F.2d 72, 76 (D.C.Cir.1991) for the proposition that the Hatch–Waxman Act was designed to "get generic drugs into the hands of patients at reasona......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
152 cases
  • Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Bureau of Land Mgmt., No. C 03–02509 SI
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • April 3, 2014
    ...resources in the optimal way. Such budget flexibility as Congress has allowed the agency is not for [courts] to hijack.” In re Barr Labs., 930 F.2d 72, 75 (D.C.Cir.1991). If the Court ordered the FWS to complete the PMV recovery plan within two years, as plaintiffs 35 F.Supp.3d 1155request,......
  • Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Bureau of Land Mgmt., No. C 03–02509 SI
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • April 3, 2014
    ...resources in the optimal way. Such budget flexibility as Congress has allowed the agency is not for [courts] to hijack.” In re Barr Labs., 930 F.2d 72, 75 (D.C.Cir.1991). If the Court ordered the FWS to complete the PMV recovery plan within two years, as plaintiffs [35 F.Supp.3d 1155] reque......
  • Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. U.S. E.P.A., Nos. 90-70671
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 4, 1992
    ...EPA points to cases recognizing factors indicating that equitable relief may be inappropriate. See, e.g., In re Barr Laboratories, Inc., 930 F.2d 72, 74 (D.C.Cir.) (agency's choice of priorities is an important factor in considering whether to grant equitable relief), cert. denied, --- U.S.......
  • Janssen Prods., L.P. v. Lupin Ltd., No. 2:10–CV–05954 WHW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • August 14, 2014
    ...will be harmed by precluding generic drugs at lower prices. See Joint Proposed Findings of Fact ¶ D1154 (quoting In re Barr Labs., Inc., 930 F.2d 72, 76 (D.C.Cir.1991) for the proposition that the Hatch–Waxman Act was designed to "get generic drugs into the hands of patients at reasona......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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