John Adkisson, principal in the Twin Cities office of Boston-based Fish & Richardson, knows a thing or two about high-stakes patent-infringement litigation. Last year, Adkisson served as lead counsel for Samsung Bioepis in groundbreaking litigation over Renflexis, a “biosimilar” rheumatoid arthritis drug designed to mimic Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Biotech’s far more expensive Remicade.
Johnson & Johnson voluntarily dismissed the suit — Janssen Biotech Inc. v. Samsung Bioepis Co. Ltd. — with prejudice in November 2017, just six months after its initial filing in the U.S. Court for the District of New Jersey.
According to Adkisson, the abrupt dismissal was a testament to the weakness of J&J’s case. The three patents at issue in the suit pertained to drug production, he said. After determining fundamental differences in the compounds’ respective manufacturing processes, Adkisson’s team told J&J’s team that “they basically don’t have a case here,” he said. The court agreed.
Until last year, Remicade was a cash cow for J&J, pulling in some $5 billion annually. Adkisson’s victory jeopardizes that revenue stream; Merck, Samsung Bioepis’s U.S. partner, inked a $117 million deal earlier this year to provide Renflexis to the VA medical system.
Janssen v. Samsung Bioepis wasn’t Adkisson’s only recent high-profile patent infringement case. In July, he secured a favorable settlement for Golden Valley-based General Mills in a suit brought by St. Louis-based Post Consumer Brands over General Mills’ bagged cereal displays.
Adkisson also finds time to run Fish’s 250-lawyer litigation group and sit on the firm’s management committee. Looking ahead, he’s virtually certain Janssen Biotech v. Samsung Bioepis won’t be his last biosimilar case.
“This is an emerging area of the law,” said Adkisson. “You’ll see a lot more litigation in the biosimilar space.”