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Hedge fund manager wins U.S. drug patent challenges

by Glenn Hess, special to C&EN
November 7, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 44

Hedge fund manager J. Kyle Bass’s controversial campaign of challenging the validity of U.S. drug patents scored a pair of victories in late October. In the first, the federal Patent Trial & Appeal Board determined that most of Shire PLC’s claims for its short bowel syndrome drug Gattex are invalid. The tribunal then nullified two patents related to Celgene’s cancer drugs Thalomid, Revlimid, and Pomalyst. In both cases, the board ruled that the patent claims were invalid because they were obvious in light of earlier patents and scientific journal articles. The board, part of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, has agreed to review several other patents that Bass’s Coalition for Affordable Drugs has challenged. Its next decisions are due in February 2017. The victories mark the first time a nonplayer in the drug market has successfully challenged pharmaceutical patents. The board’s decisions are likely to be appealed in federal courts.

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