Feb 7, 2020 - Health

A tale of two drug patent cases

Biogen scored a major patent win with its multiple sclerosis drug. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The U.S. Patent and Appeal Board this week handed down mixed rulings in a pair of important cases involving drug patents.

Why it matters: The patent system is the foundation of drug companies' ability to keep their prices high, and these specific rulings will affect access and cost for two drugs that treat serious conditions — HIV and multiple sclerosis.

Biogen won a patent dispute over its multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera, which generated $4.4 billion of global revenue in 2019 — meaning a cheaper competitor won't come this year.

  • The Tecfidera patent doesn't expire until 2028, although Biogen expects generics to hit the market before then due to other pending cases.
  • Read the decision.

Gilead failed to invalidate patents held by the federal government pertaining to its HIV prevention pill, Truvada.

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Why Biogen's generic drug patent win matters

Mylan is itching to make a generic version of Biogen's popular multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera, but that won't be happening for a while now that federal patent reviewers turned down Mylan's patent challenge.

The big picture: The victory for Biogen not only secures several more years of monopoly pricing for the company — Biogen has a history of raising Tecfidera's list price by at least 5% per year — but also likely will create a higher baseline price for when Tecfidera generics finally come out.

Go deeperArrowFeb 10, 2020 - Health

Clinical trial for HIV vaccine ends in failure

The experimental vaccine against the AIDS virus for the 2016 clinical trial. Photo: Mujahid Safodien/AFP via Getty Images

A vaccine aimed at preventing the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has failed and will end its clinical trial in South Africa early, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Why it matters: About 34 million people are living with HIV/AIDS globally, according to 2018 data from the World Health Organization. South Africa has one of the highest HIV rates in the world, with young women especially at risk.

Go deeperArrowFeb 3, 2020 - Health

Biogen brings in Warren Buffett, loses Ray Dalio

Biogen has been an active stock. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A lot of Biogen's value hinges on whether federal scientists and regulators will approve or reject its drug candidate for Alzheimer's.

Driving the news: The drug, called aducanumab, has attracted people like Warren Buffett to invest in Biogen's stock on the assumption the drug will score approval for a patient population that desperately seeks a treatment. But other wealthy investors, like Ray Dalio, have taken a less sanguine view and dumped Biogen completely.

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - Health