The Neurim CJEU decision of July 2012 has arguably caused an equal amount of excitement and controversy.  On the one hand, it seemed to open the door to supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) for second or further medical uses.  On the other, it seemed to go against a number of previous decisions.  On a strict literal interpretation of Article 3(d)[1] of the SPC Regulation[2], it should not be possible to obtain an SPC for new applications of old active ingredients that had already been the subject of a marketing authorisation.  In Neurim, based on a teleological interpretation to the SPC Regulation, the CJEU held that such an SPC could be validly granted.

A recent Opinion from Advocate General M. Giovanni Pitruzzella in the Santen SPC preliminary reference[3] urges the CJEU to expressly reject the Neurim decision, considering that the mere limitation of its application or marginalisation would not be a satisfactory option.

The facts in Santen

On 3 June 2015, Santen filed an SPC application relying on European Patent No. 057959306 as the basic patent in force (the “basic patent”) and on an EMA marketing authorisation granted on 19 March 2015 for the drug Ikervis (an eye drop emulsion containing the active ingredient ciclosporin used to treat severe keratisis).  The French National Institute of Industrial Property (“INPI”) rejected the application on the ground that a marketing authorisation had been previously issued for the same active ingredient for a medication called Sandimmun (an oral solution with several therapeutic indications including the eye disease uveitis, an inflammation of some or all of the uvea (the middle part of the eye)).

INPI held that the conditions in Neurim had not been satisfied for two reasons:

  • the basic patent was not limited to the severe keratisis indication – the claims included product only claims and claims to numerous other eye diseases; and
  • Santen had not demonstrated that the marketing authorisation constituted a ‘new therapeutic indication’ within the meaning of Neurim (for example, where the mode of action of the active ingredient differs or where the medical field differs).

Santen appealed the decision to the Paris Court of Appeal and it, in turn, decided to stay proceedings referring two preliminary questions to the CJEU.  The first question has asked the CJEU to consider how the concept of “different application” of an old active substance as understood in Neurim should be interpreted and the question provides a range of possible options from strict to broad interpretations.  The second question asks whether, in the context of determining whether the “[SPC application is] within the limits of the protection conferred by the basic patent” as understood in Neurim, the scope of the basic patent should be the same as the marking authorisation relied upon (i.e. it should be limited to the new medical use corresponding to the therapeutic indication of that marketing authorisation).

Less than six months after the preliminary reference was made by the Paris Court of Appeal, the CJEU had the opportunity to consider the scope and relevance of the Neurim decision in the Abraxis SPC case[4].  In that case the CJEU did not openly criticise the Neurim decision and, instead, limited its ramifications by referring to it as an “exception to the narrow interpretation of Article 3(d)” which “does not, in any event, refer to cases of new formulations of the product at issue”.


Continue Reading Santen SPC case: Advocate General Pitruzzella urges CJEU to reject Neurim

Opinion of the CJEU Advocate-General in Case C-581/18 RB v TÜV Rheinland LGA Products GmbH, Allianz IAED SA: application of the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality in a medical device case.

Background

The effects of the Poly Implant Prothèse SA (PIP) defective breast implant scandal continue to be felt almost ten years since it first came to light that PIP had fraudulently used cheaper, industrial grade silicone in the implants that it manufactured. Due to PIP’s insolvency, those affected have attempted to obtain compensation from other sources, including the relevant notified body, TÜV Rheinland,[1] on the basis that this body had negligently certified PIP’s products and the French regulatory authorities.


Continue Reading Medical Devices and Compulsory Insurance in the EU

EU law places strict controls on the use of nutrition and health claims on food labelling and in advertising. Under Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 (the Regulation):

  • a nutrition claim is any claim which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties due to the energy and/or nutrients or other substances it provides or contains (e.g., “low fat” or “source of fibre”); and
  • a health claim is one which states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health (e.g., “Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal teeth”).

Under the Regulation, it is only possible to use nutrition claims that are listed in the Annex to the Regulation, and/or health claims that have been authorised by the European Commission following a European Food Safety Authority scientific review. The only exception to these requirements is in relation to claims that are trade marks (or brand or “fancy” names) and general, non-specific health claims (e.g., “Good for you” or “Healthy”). These claims may be used without prior approval, provided they are accompanied by an approved claim (which, in the case of a general health claim, must be an authorised specific health claim, such as the calcium example given above).


Continue Reading Latest View on Health Claims on Foods in the EU

The next Future Pharma Forum will be on 27 September: Implications of Recent EU and UK Court Decisions in the Pharmaceutical Sector

Emily MacKenzie, Barrister at Brick Court Chambers, will join us to recap on how challenges to pharmaceutical decisions may be brought to the European and domestic courts. Emily will provide a summary

On 28 June, the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union gave his opinion on the SNITEM and Philips France case against France. In this case, the Conseil d’Etat in France asked whether a particular software programme intended to be used by doctors to support prescribing decisions falls within the definition of medical device as provided by Directive 93/42/EEC (Medical Devices Directive).


Continue Reading Advocate General’s opinion on software as medical devices