Actavis case may not serve as Namenda precedent

The Wall Street Journal's Pharmalot blog reported that a federal judge ruled Warner-Chilcott, which is now owned by Actavis, was not anticompetitive in its actions because they did not bar Mylan from entering the market. Mylan's lawsuit had alleged that the drug's new reformulation amounted to a minor change intended to maintain a drug monopoly. Mylan categorized the switch as product-hopping.

The Journal noted that product-hopping refers to changes a manufacturer makes to a drug's formulation that are too small to include a therapeutic benefit. The Doryx modification was the addition of a line that the court said could help patients to easily divide their pills.

Actavis is now fighting similar allegations but this time over its Alzheimer's disease medication Namenda. Instead of making formulation modifications to Namenda, Actavis planned to stop making the drug before the patent expired, which would have left a gap in the marketplace, and consumers would have had had to cease taking the medication or migrate to Namenda XR, a newer version of the same drug but with a longer patent life.

An injunction halted this plan and Namenda continues to be manufactured and distributed.

Although the two cases are both characterized as product-hopping, experts told the Journal the facts surrounding the two cases differ far too much to determine if Actavis will win the second lawsuit.