Sandoz appoints global head of IP litigation ahead of Novartis spin-off

Sandoz has announced Kit Carter, previously a senior associate at Pinsent Masons, as its new global head of IP litigation. In her new role, Carter will oversee the company's IP strategy as it prepares to spin off from parent company Novartis.

27 January 2023 by Amy Sandys

Sandoz, Kit Carter, Novartis Kit Carter, who joins from Pinsent Masons, is Sandoz's new global head of IP litigation. Her appointment comes just months before the company spins off from parent company Novartis ©Ralf/ADOBE STOCK

Kit Carter (44) has joined generics and biosimilar drugs company Sandoz as its global head of IP litigation. In her new role, which encompasses patents as well as a broader IP remit, she will oversee the company’s future IP strategy. This comes at an especially vital time, given Sandoz’s imminent spin-off from parent company Novartis.

After achieving a PhD in immunology from the University of Cambridge, where she researched regulatory T cells and the use of monoclonal antibodies to suppress the autoimmune reaction against insulin-producing cells, Carter moved into law. She began as a trainee at the London office of international firm Herbert Smith Freehills in 2011, where she qualified and became an associate in 2013.

In 2015, Carter joined IP boutique Powell Gilbert, before moving to mixed IP firm Carpmaels & Ransford just over a year later. The firm promoted her to senior associate in 2018, before she departed for her last firm, Pinsent Masons, in early 2021.

Kit Carter

Generic drug expertise

At the latter firm, Carter was active in cases including for Teva, alongside Sandoz as a co-claimant, against Bristol-Myers Squibb over its blockbuster blood clot-prevention drug, apixaban. She also worked for Teva in litigation against Novartis regarding fingolimod, attempting to allow the launch of Gilenya in the UK.

Following her move to Sandoz, Kit Carter says, “It was always my goal to find a role that combines my love for science and medicine with practising law. This role at Sandoz has presented me with the perfect opportunity to fulfil this ambition. I am lucky to have joined an amazing team where everyone is working to bring affordable medicines to as many patients as possible as quickly as possible.”

She adds, “I am looking forward to helping develop the company’s IP litigation strategy and shape its future direction, particularly at this exciting time given its imminent spin-off from Novartis.”

Carter will be working from the company’s new UK hub, which is based in central London. The pharmaceutical company currently has its headquarters near Munich, although it will move this to Switzerland later in 2023.

Sandoz to spin off

As such, changes are afoot for Sandoz. In September 2022, parent company Novartis confirmed that it intends to spin off the generics company into its own separate entity by the second half of 2023. This should result in Sandoz, which also encompasses generic brands Hexal and 1A-Pharma, becoming one of Europe’s largest generics and biosimilars manufacturers.

JUVE Patent is not yet aware how the separation will impact either company’s IP strategy. But the soon-to-be independent Sandoz could potentially end up on the opposite side of the former parent company in future patent lawsuits. According to JUVE Patent research, Novartis has not appeared in patent infringement proceedings against Sandoz before now.

More flexibility

Despite conflicts of interest, many observers recognised the advantages in uniting the originator and generics divisions under one roof. It meant the company always had both sides in view when it came to current topics in the pharmaceutical industry, such as second medical use patents or compulsory licences. A boost here was Sandoz’s in-house staff moving to the parent company, helping to shape litigation strategy.

However, for Sandoz the spin off means a greater freedom to operate, also with regards to generics and biosimilars of Novartis’ originator drugs. Sandoz’s current CEO Richard Saynor will continue to lead the new independent company, which will be headquartered in Switzerland. It would also be listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange, with an American Depositary Receipt (ADR) program in the US.