Cancer drug

French court awards Eli Lilly more high damages for pemetrexed

The Paris Court of First Instance has once again granted Eli Lilly a preliminary injunction for pemetrexed. The judges also granted another large claim for damages - this time to the tune of four million euros. It appears that French case law is becoming pharma-originator friendly.

28 January 2021 by Christina Schulze

Eli Lilly, pemetrexed Eli Lilly is awarded high damages for its pemetrexed cancer drug Alimta in France ©Andrey Popov/ADOBE STOCK

Different judge, same chamber, same drug. Eli Lilly has successfully sued competitor Zentiva at the Paris Court of First Instance. The judges also prohibited the company from selling the chemotherapy drug pemetrexed in France.

In addition, the court ordered the provisional sum of 4,000,000 euros to be deducted from the damages. This is a large claim for damages by French standards.

Pemetrexed is a chemotherapy drug. Eli Lilly produces and markets the drug under the brand name Alimta. European patent EP 1 313 508 protects the use of the disodium salt of pemetrexed in combination with vitamin B12.

Damage control

Eli Lilly caused a stir in France last summer when the Judicial Court of Paris awarded the company 28 million euros in damages.

This is the second time in a row that Eli Lilly has won a large claim for damages based on the same patent and drug. Observers suspect that the French judges want to position themselves as originator- and pharma-patent holder friendly.

The 3rd section of the 3rd chamber handed down the first ruling in the case between Eli Lilly and Fresenius Kabi, presided over by renowned patent judge Carine Gillet. The latest judgment was decided by another highly-experienced judge, Nathalie Sabotier.

In the past, it was relatively difficult for pharma companies to obtain injunctions or large damages in France. But it remains too early to call this a trend, as Fresenius Kabi has since filed an appeal. It is likely the hearing will take place next year.

Zentiva has today lodged an appeal. The merits of this case will be heard on 15 June 2021, the same day that Eli Lilly’s patent expires.

Stanislas Roux-Vaillard, Eli Lilly, pemetrexed

Stanislas Roux-Vaillard

Series of wins for Hogan Lovells

On the representative side, the proceedings meant another win for the young team led by up-and-coming litigator Stanislas Roux-Vaillard.

Hogan Lovells has recently built up its Paris team with young hopeful Roux-Vaillard from Véron. The market-leading patent boutique has since dissolved. Hogan Lovells is representing Eli Lilly throughout Europe in this and other important proceedings.

Last summer, the firm also delivered wins for Eli Lilly regarding pemetrexed in Germany and the Netherlands.

For its first infringement proceedings in France, Zentiva worked with mixed IP firm Casalonga.

Arnaud Casalonga, Eli Lilly, pemetrexed

Arnaud Casalonga

Eli Lilly
Hogan Lovells (Paris): Stanislas Roux-Vaillard (lead), Adrien Bonnet

Casalonga (Paris): Arnaud Casalonga

Judicial Court of Paris, 3rd chamber, 1st section
Nathalie Sabotier (presiding judge), Caroline Reboul (clerk)