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Archived updates for Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ordinarily Seperable Stereoisomer Obvious for Lack of Increased Potency Over Mixture

In Aventis Pharma Deutschland GMBH, et al. v. Lupin, LTD., et al. (September 11, 2007), the Federal Circuit held that claims covering a 5(S) stereoisomer of ramipril in a composition substantially free of other isomers were obvious where the stereoisomer was ordinarily separable from the prior art mixture with inactive ingredients and did not offer increased potency.

According to the opinion by Circuit Judge Linn,
The record suggests that when Dr. Smith synthesized SCH 31925, she understood that the 5(S) form of ramipril was the mixture’s therapeutically active ingredient. Even if she did not, however, the prior art provides a sufficient reason to look to the 5(S) configuration. . . . Moreover, the ’944 patent specifically taught that stereoisomers of ramipril “can be separated by conventional chromatographic or fractional crystallization methods.” ’944 patent, col. 10, ll. 28–31. Aventis’s protestations notwithstanding, there is no evidence that separating 5(S) and SSSSR ramipril was outside the capability of an ordinarily skilled artisan.

Aventis attempts to rebut this prima facie case of obviousness by arguing that purified 5(S) ramipril exhibited unexpected results in the form of increased potency. . . . The prior art supporting prima facie obviousness included the SCH 31925 mixture, and so Aventis must show that 5(S) ramipril had unexpected results not over all of its stereoisomers, but over that mixture, which did not contain the [higher potency] RRSSS form. And the potency of pure 5(S) ramipril is precisely what one would expect, as compared to a mixture containing other, inert or near-inert stereoisomers.

All evidence suggests, and the district court found, that potency varies with the absolute amount of the 5(S) isomer in a mixture. Invalidity Opinion at 37. That is, a 30 milligram dose of a mixture that is 1/3 5(S) ramipril has the same effectiveness as a 10 milligram dose of pure 5(S) ramipril. Id. Aventis has thus failed to show unexpected results that would tend to rebut a prima facie case of obviousness. See Pfizer v. Apotex, 480 F.3d 1348, 1368–69 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (holding obvious a patent claim to amlodipine besylate over prior art disclosing the small genus of pharmaceutically acceptable amlodipine salts, where there was an insufficient showing that the properties of amlodipine besylate, purportedly superior for the purpose of mass-manufacturing tablets, were unexpectedly superior to other obvious-to-try salts); cf. Forest Labs., Inc. v. Ivax Pharms., Inc., No. 07-1059, slip op. at 10–11 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 5, 2007) (holding that prima facie obviousness of a claim to a particular stereoisomer over a racemic mixture was rebutted where the particular stereoisomer showed unexpected benefits and evidence indicated that the isomers would have been difficult for a person of ordinary skill in the art to separate).

In sum, we hold that claims 1 and 2 of the ’722 patent, which cover the 5(S) stereoisomer of ramipril in a composition substantially free of other isomers, are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 103 over the SCH 31925 mixture, the ’944 patent, and the enalapril references in the prior art.
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