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AbbVie’s Humira Patent Suit Survives Antitrust Appeal

 |  August 2, 2022

AbbVie’s thicket of more than 130 patents on Humira, an arthritis treatment and the world’s best-selling drug, doesn’t violate antitrust laws, the Seventh Circuit said Monday, affirming an Illinois federal court’s June 2020 ruling dismissing the lawsuit.

Settlement agreements in the US and in the European Union that permit biosimilar versions of Humira to enter the US market during 2023 “are traditional resolutions of patent litigation,” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in an opinion for the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Even though Humira’s original patent expired in 2016, AbbVie secured and enforced more than 100 additional patents, adding many years of market exclusivity for the immunology blockbuster, court filings show. Now, as biosims near the U.S. market thanks to patent settlements between AbbVie and other companies, an appeals court has concluded that the pharma giant’s conduct was legal.

Humira generated $20.7 billion worldwide last year despite tough biosim competition already on the market in Europe.

AbbVie’s CEO Rick Gonzalez said in February that he expects the company’s earnings per share to decline in 2023, despite sales for new drugs Skyrizi and Rinvoq being on the upswing.