ViroPharma, Inc. v. Hamburg, Civil Action No. 12-0584 (ESH)

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtELLEN SEGAL HUVELLE
PartiesViroPharma, Inc., Plaintiff, v. Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., in her official capacity as Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, et al., Defendants, and Akron, Inc., et al., Defendants-intervenors.
Decision Date23 April 2012
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 12-0584 (ESH)

ViroPharma, Inc., Plaintiff,
Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., in her official
capacity as Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, et al., Defendants,
and Akron, Inc., et al., Defendants-intervenors.

Civil Action No. 12-0584 (ESH)


Date: April 23, 2012


ViroPharma, Inc., manufactures the antibiotic Vancocin®. On April 13, 2012, ViroPharma sued Margaret Hamburg, in her official capacity as the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; Kathleen Sebelius, in her official capacity as the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; and the agencies themselves (collectively, the "FDA") to challenge the FDA's approval, on April 9, 2012, of three Abbreviated New Drug Applications ("ANDAs") permitting the marketing of generic versions of Vancocin (vancomycin hydrochloride capsules or "vancomycin"). (See Complaint, April 13, 2012 [Dkt. No. 1] ("Compl.").) ViroPharma alleges that the FDA approved the three ANDAs (1) in violation of ViroPharma's statutory right under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ("FFDCA"), 21 U.S.C. §§ 301 et seq., to a three-year period of exclusivity for Vancocin, extending through

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December 15, 2014; and (2) based solely on in vitro (laboratory) bioequivalence testing in violation of the FDA's own regulations requiring in vivo (human) bioequivalence testing. (Id. ¶ 2.) The Court will refer to these as ViroPharma's "statutory exclusivity claim" (see id. ¶¶ 75-78 (Count II)) and its "bioequivalence claim." (See id. ¶¶ 69-74 (Count I).)

Before the Court is ViroPharma's motion for a preliminary injunction to require the FDA to withdraw its approval of the three vancomycin ANDAs and to refuse to approve any additional vancomycin ANDAs until ViroPharma's claims are adjudicated on the merits. (See Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction, April 13, 2012 [Dkt. No. 4] ("Pl.'s Mot.").1 ) The FDA has opposed ViroPharma's motion (see Federal Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction, April 17, 2012 [Dkt. No. 22] ("FDA Opp'n")), as have defendants-intervenors, the three generic manufacturers whose vancomycin ANDAs have been approved. (See Intervenor-Defendant Akorn's Memorandum in Opposition to ViroPharma Incorporated's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, April 17, 2012 [Dkt. No. 23] ("Akorn Opp'n"); Alvogen, Inc.'s Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiff ViroPharma Inc.'s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction, April 17, 2012 [Dkt. No. 24] ("Alvogen Opp'n"); Opposition of Defendant-Intervenor Watson Laboratories, Inc. to Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction and Expedited Hearing, April 17, 2012 [Dkt. No. 25] ("Watson Opp'n").)

Following a hearing held on April 19, 2012, and having considered all of the parties' arguments and pleadings, including the reply filed by plaintiff after the hearing (see Reply, April

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20, 2012 [Dkt. No. 32] ("Pl.'s Reply")), the Court concludes that ViroPharma has not demonstrated that it is entitled to a preliminary injunction. Therefore, its motion will be denied.


Prior opinions of this Court and others describe the background relevant to ViroPharma's statutory exclusivity and bioequivalence claims.


A. ViroPharma's Statutory Exclusivity Claim

Prior to 1997 and the passage of the [Food and Drug Modernization Act of 1997 ("FDAMA"), Pub. L. No. 105-115, 111 Stat. 2296], "antibiotic" drugs were approved under Section 507 of the FFDCA, 21 U.S.C. § 357 ("Section 507"), and non-antibiotic drugs were approved under Section 505, 21 U.S.C. § 355 ("Section 505"). This difference had a long history, dating back to the development of penicillin, the first drug to have the capacity to kill microbes, i.e., be "anti-biotic." Because penicillin was manufactured in batches through fermentation, its strength and efficacy could vary depending on the rigor of that process. Congress required that FDA test all batches of penicillin to ensure that appropriate doses were administered to the military during World War II. Initially, Section 507 applied only to penicillin or any derivative of penicillin; other named antibiotic drugs were added to the statute as they were developed. When the FFDCA was amended in 1962, a more generalized definition was added so that the law would not need amending with each new discovery of an antibiotic drug. [See Drug Amendments of 1962, Pub. L. No. 87-781, 76 Stat. 780.]
Two key consequences arose from these different treatments. Applicants for generic versions of antibiotic drugs were only requested to show conformance with statutorily-mandated, published standards of identity, strength, quality, and purity for the antibiotic substance, as reflected in antibiotic "monographs" published by FDA. Pharmaceutical companies did not have to submit the safety and efficacy data that was required for pioneer and generic non-antibiotic drugs. Therefore, generic antibiotics were developed and marketed fairly readily. See Glaxo, Inc. v. Heckler, 623 F. Supp. 69, 72 (E.D.N.C. 1985); Abbreviated New Drug Applications, Proposed Rule, 54 Fed. Reg. 28,872, 28,878 (July 10, 1989). However, antibiotic drugs did not receive the patent listing, patent certification, and marketing exclusivity benefits available to pioneer and non-antibiotic drugs after enactment of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act ("Hatch-Waxman"), Pub. L. No. 98-417, 98 Stat. 1585 (1984). . . .
The significance of the Hatch-Waxman Amendments to FFDCA cannot be understated. Prior to 1984, all applicants seeking to market pioneer drugs or generic non-antibiotic drugs had to file [a new drug application ("NDA")]

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containing, inter alia, extensive scientific data demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of the drug. See 21 U.S.C. § 355(a)-(b); 21 C.F.R. § 314.50. As a result, few generic non-antibiotic drugs were approved by [the] FDA. See Glaxo, 623 F. Supp. at 72. Hatch-Waxman created an abbreviated approval process for generic non-antibiotic drugs, while retaining incentives for pioneer drugs, such as marketing exclusivity and patent protections. See 21 U.S.C. § 355(jj). The abbreviated new drug application ("ANDA") process shortens the time and effort needed for approval of a generic drug by allowing the applicant to merely demonstrate its product's bioequivalence to the NDA drug, without reproducing the entirety of the NDA's extensive scientific research. See Eli Lilly and Co. v. Medtronic, Inc., 496 U.S. 661, 676 (1990) (describing the ANDA process).
Because Congress still wanted to provide incentives for new drug development, alongside the ANDA process that eased the marketing of generic drugs, Hatch-Waxman entitles an NDA applicant to a period of market exclusivity (3 or 5 years, depending on the degree of innovation reflected in the NDA) which bars FDA approval of a generic ANDA for the NDA product. See 21 U.S.C. § 355(c)(3)(D)(ii)-(iv), (j)(5)(D)(ii)-(iv).

Allergan, Inc. v. Crawford, 398 F. Supp. 2d 13, 16-17 (D.D.C. 2005) (footnotes omitted, citation formats altered).

Thus, pursuant to Hatch-Waxman's provisions, "pioneer drug companies are entitled to certain periods of marketing exclusivity during which they are protected from generic competition." AstraZeneca Pharm. LP v. FDA, --- F. Supp. 2d ----, ----, 2012 WL 983481, at *2 (D.D.C. 2012). "Included among these various exclusivity periods is what is sometimes referred to as a 'new patient population' or 'new indication' exclusivity because it frequently arises when a pioneer drug company conducts post-approval clinical studies, submits a supplemental application to the FDA [(an "sNDA")], and secures the FDA's approval to market an approved drug to a new population or for a new indication." Id. Specifically, if an sNDA is approved and it

contains reports of new clinical investigations (other than bioavailability studies) essential to the approval of the [sNDA] and conducted or sponsored by the person submitting the [sNDA], the [FDA] may not make the approval of an [ANDA] submitted . . . for a change approved in the supplement effective before the expiration of three years from the date of the approval of the [sNDA].

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21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(5)(F)(iv).

Although referred to "new indication exclusivity," this provision applies beyond situations where an existing drug is approved for the treatment of a disease for which it had not been approved before. "The FDA has interpreted [§ 355(j)(5)(F)(iv)] as establishing a relationship between the information obtained from the clinical investigation, the change approved through the pioneer drug company's [sNDA], and the scope of the information relied upon by a generic competitor in a specific ANDA." AstraZeneca, 2012 WL 983481, at *3. Therefore, labeling changes approved in an sNDA can qualify for exclusivity under § 355(j)(5)(F)(iv) as well. As relevant here, if an sNDA that prescribes labeling changes is approved on the basis of "new clinical investigations (other than bioavailability studies) . . . conducted or sponsored by the person submitting the [sNDA]," then an ANDA that includes the labeling changes may only be approved three years thereafter. 21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(5)(F)(iv). And...

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