Botox-Maker Allergan in Patent Spat Over Next-Wave Wrinkle Fixer

(Bloomberg) -- Many wrinkle haters endured painful gel injections in the face to get the smoother skin they wanted, until Allergan Plc developed a way to take some of the sting out of the process by adding a small amount of local anesthetic.

While the improvement has helped the Juvedérm product line top $500 million a year in U.S. sales for Allergan, which also makes the blockbuster wrinkle-remedy Botox, the company now alleges a smaller rival, Prollenium Medical Technologies Inc., has been using its inventions without permission.

Allergan sued closely held Prollenium in federal court for patent royalties on sales of its Revanesse Versa+ wrinkle-filler, claiming Versa+ infringes two of the patents for Juvedérm. Allergan is demanding cash compensation and an order blocking sales of Versa+, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware.

The patents cover formulations for and methods of manufacturing the filler compositions that include lidocaine, an anesthetic, and are sold in Juvedérm Ultra XC, Ultra Plus XC and Voluma XC, Allergan said in the filing. The effects last from about nine months to a year.

Juvedérm products had U.S. sales of $389.8 million during the first nine months of 2018, up by 7.8 percent from $361.6 million during the same period in 2017, Allergan said Oct. 31 in its quarterly earnings report.

The Ontario, Canada-based Prollenium’s American subsidiary introduced Revanesse Versa+ on Dec. 17. Representatives of the company didn’t immediately comment on the lawsuit.

Allergan sees the Juvedérm brand as its future in medical aesthetics. Chief Executive Officer Brenton Saunders said at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference on Jan. 7 that medical aesthetics accounts for about 27 percent of the company’s revenue.

“We believe this market will double over the next five to six years,” Saunders said. Allergan has about 7 percent of the market, “and we estimate we can get to 10 percent or 15 percent penetration in just a few years, and then very importantly, millennials,” he said.

Demand for Juvedérm products has been growing faster than for Botox during the past couple of years, Saunders said Dec. 6 at another health-care conference. Botox had U.S. sales of $1.85 billion during the first nine months of 2018, according to Allergan’s quarterly earnings report.

“The Juvedérm brand will far surpass what we talk about Botox in terms of size and importance in medical aesthetics over the next several years,” he said.

The case is Allergan USA Inc. v. Prollenium US Inc., 19-cv-126, U.S. District Court, Delaware (Wilmington).

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