On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit found, that in order to obtain patent protection for its potent painkiller OxyContin, Purdue Pharma had intentionally deceived officials of the United States Patent Office. The Court of Appeals agreed with United States District Court Judge Sidney H. Stein of the Southern District of New York who ad previously found that Purdue Pharma had secured its patent by implying that clinical evidence existed to show that OxyContin was easier for doctors to use to control pain when, in fact, no such data existed. The Court also found that Purdue "failed to disclose material information that was inconsistent with its arguments for patentability."
The ruling strips Purdue Pharma of its patent protection for the highly profitable painkiller thereby paving the way for increased competition from generic forms of the drug. It also raises the possibility of substantial damage awards against Purdue for the excessive profits it obtained as a result of the improper patent and the higher prices Purdue charged for OxyContin as a result of that improperly obtained patent. Presently, 65 cases by insurers and others are pending against Purdue for that very relief. These awards could be costly for Purdue since OxyContin (under patent protection) has been a very expensive drug and because federal law allows for a potential tripling of any damage award as a means of penalizing such wrongdoing by a manufacturer. OxyContin sales have averaged $1.5 billion annually over the past 5 years.