Teva parries patent challenge from Eli Lilly in long-running migraine feud

While much of the current migraine hubbub revolves around AbbVie's oral franchise and Pfizer's Nurtec ODT, a patent feud between a pair of veteran injectables has been quietly raging in the background. Early this week, Teva Pharmaceutical parried a riposte from Eli Lilly.

Monday, a judge in Boston swatted down Eli Lilly’s attempt to invalidate three Teva-held patents surrounding its migraine antibody Ajovy. The ruling tees up a trial slated for Oct. 18. In the case, Teva alleges Lilly’s rival antibody Emgality infringes a trio of Ajovy patents, according to Reuters.

Teva’s case has been running for four years and originally accused Lilly of treading on nine Ajovy patents. Teva and Lilly followed Amgen’s injectable Aimovig onto the CGRP migraine prevention market back in 2018, and, after Emgality’s approval, Teva filed suit.

All three companies’ drugs prevent migraines by blocking the release of calcitonin gene-related peptides.

Separately, Lilly previously challenged Teva’s clutch of patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) with mixed results: The agency nixed six Teva patents in early 2020 while upholding the other three.

In light of the latest decision, a Teva spokesperson told Reuters the company looks forward to the trial and plans to “defend [its] IP vigorously.” The company did not immediately respond to Fierce Pharma’s request for comment.

Teva has pinned big hopes on Ajovy as a growth driver amid a major business turnaround from CEO Kåre Schultz. Still, the injectable’s performance has historically been weakest among the first wave of anti-CGRP drugs.

Nowadays, those injectables face an even bigger threat in orals from Pfizer and AbbVie, which also markets an oral migraine treatment in Ubrelvy. Pfizer's Nurtec, for its part, is approved as a dual therapy for both acute and preventive uses. Biohaven developed the drug and recently sold itself to drug behemoth Pfizer.

Meanwhile, Lilly and Teva’s patent kerfuffle doesn’t end here. Last summer, Teva filed a new lawsuit against Lilly in Massachusetts federal court the very same day it scored two new Ajovy patents from the U.S. PTO.

Teva argued Emgality infringes the new duo of patents and said at the time it was looking to block Lilly from making and selling its CGRP inhibitor in the U.S. Teva also asked for damages in the case.

Last year, Lilly pulled down more than $577 million global sales of Emgality, while Teva’s Ajovy snared $313 million over the same period. Amgen's Aimovig, for its part, also generated $313 million.