Teva, after locking up new Ajovy patents, sues Eli Lilly again in heated migraine drug fight

The CGRP patent fight between Ajovy maker Teva Pharmaceuticals and Emgality developer Eli Lilly is only heating up.

Teva filed a new suit against Lilly in Massachusetts federal court Tuesday, the same day it scored two new Ajovy patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Israeli drugmaker says Lilly’s rival migraine prevention drug Emgality infringes upon the two newly granted Ajovy patents. The company is seeking to block Lilly from making and selling its CGRP inhibitor in the U.S. and is demanding damages.

The suit comes as the two pharma companies fight over nine other Teva patents on Ajovy.

Teva and Lilly followed Amgen onto the CGRP migraine prevention market back in 2018. After Emgality’s approval, Teva sued Lilly for alleged infringement on nine Ajovy patents. 

A trial for that case was expected in February 2022, according to a Lilly securities filing at the end of April.

Separately, Lilly challenged those Teva patents at the U.S. Patent & Trademark office and scored a mixed result. The agency in early 2020 invalidated six patents but upheld the remaining three. 

Now, both companies are appealing the ruling.

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Teva has flagged Ajovy as a key growth driver amid a major business turnaround from CEO Kåre Schultz. The company hopes its innovative drugs can salvage the company from a depressed U.S. generics market and the loss of exclusivity of once top-selling multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.

So far, though, Ajovy’s performance is the weakest among the first wave of the three anti-CGRP drugs. Novartis and Amgen’s Aimovig is leading the class with over 40% share for both total and new-to-brand scripts, according to a tally of IQVIA data last week by RBC Capital Markets.

RELATED: With latest FDA nod, Biohaven's Nurtec becomes first migraine med to prevent—and treat—attacks

In the first quarter, Ajovy brought in sales of $47 million, compared with $120 million for Emgality and $66 million for Aimovig. For the entire year, Teva expects around $300 million in Ajovy sales.

 The company aims to eventually grab a third of the CGRP market over the coming years, Schultz said on a recent conference call.

After those three CGRP drug launches, the field is seeing even more competition in 2021. Biohaven Pharmaceuticals recently scored a label expansion for its Nurtec ODT as a preventative therapy. The drug was previously approved as an acute migraine treatment.