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U.S. House committee launches probe of Allergan patent hiding

Staff Writer |
A U.S. House of Representatives committee launched a probe into drugmaker Allergan’s deal to transfer some of its patents to a Native American tribe to shield them from review.

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A bipartisan group of four representatives from the House Oversight and Government Committee, including Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy and top Democrat Elijah Cummings, sent a letter to the company saying the arrangement could “impair competition across the pharmaceutical industry.”

Allergan said last month that it was transferring patents on its dry eye medication Restasis to New York’s Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, which agreed to exclusively license them back to the company in exchange for ongoing payments.

The representatives asked Allergan to provide documents about its agreements with the tribe, financial details about the drug covered by the patents and documents on whether the drugmaker is considering similar arrangements for its other drugs.

Allergan said it plans to cooperate with the committee’s requests.

Allergan has argued that the legal maneuver is aimed at removing administrative patent challenges through inter partes review (IPR) by the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and not challenges in federal court.

Allergan said it believes that the patents should not be subject to the IPR process because of the tribe’s sovereign immunity.

The company still faces a challenge to the patents in federal court and has said that it does not plan to invoke the tribe’s immunity in federal court.

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