On February 11, the American Medical Association ("AMA") voiced its opinions regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming review of pharmaceutical patent litigation settlements that include payments to patent challengers, commonly referred to as "pay for delay" settlements.
As explained here, pay-for-delay settlements occur in the context of pharmaceutical litigation under the Hatch-Waxman Act. In a nutshell, they involve payments from a patent holder to a generic manufacturer (who has filed an abbreviated new drug application ("ANDA") relying on the patent holder's brand-name drug product and been sued) in return for an agreement to refrain from selling the generic product for a period of time. These settlement deals have become targets of the antitrust enforcement agencies and, as widely predicted, the High Court has agreed to resolve a circuit split over their presumptive legality.
The question presented, from the 11th Circuit case FTC v. Actavis (Docket No. 12-416), is "whether reverse-payment agreements are per se lawful unless the underlying patent litigation was a sham or the patent was obtained by fraud (as the court below held), or instead are presumptively anticompetitive and unlawful (as the Third Circuit has held)." The Eleventh Circuit determined that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's ("FTC's") assertion that a patent holder was "not likely to prevail" in the underlying infringement action against generic manufacturers did not assert a valid antitrust claim because focus is "on the potential exclusionary effect of the patent, not the likely exclusionary effect," and a settlement that imposes restraints lesser than that full potential effect do not exceed the "scope of the patent." The Third Circuit, conversely, applied a "quick look rule of reason," finding that "any payment from a patent holder to a generic patent challenger who agrees to delay entry into the market [is] prima facie evidence of an unreasonable restraint of trade," rebuttable by a "showing that the payment (1) was for a purpose other than delayed entry or (2) offers some pro-competitive benefit."