Courts: Teva's Cephalon fells Actavis in oral painkiller delivery appeal

A federal appeals court reversed its decision in favor of Cephalon in a dispute with Actavis ($ACT) over an oral mucosal painkiller delivery patent.

Cephalon, a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceuticals ($TEVA), patented the delivery platform Fentora, an approach to the oral absorption of the painkiller fentanyl for cancer patients that uses penetration enhancers and pH-controlling materials to ease the passage of the drugs through the mouth.

The decision is a reversal of a lower court's decision to side with Actavis--at that time Watson Pharmaceuticals ($WPI)--in 2011 when the company's generic version of Cephalon's Fentora came under question as a possible infringement against the patented technique.

The court upheld its original opinion that Actavis had not infringed on the patent, but it held this time that Actavis had not carried out the experimentation to the extent laid out by the patent.

Back in 2011, when the courts first overturned Cephalon's patents, the decision threatened the financial viability of Fentora, which brought the company $181.6 million globally in 2010--about 6% of its revenue. But the reversal of that decision comparatively represents a clear blow to generic drugmakers, particularly to the feasibility of their latching onto the market.

- here's the court decision