Amgen and Novartis Sue Each Other After Migraine Deal Collapses

(Bloomberg) -- Amgen Inc.’s multibillion-dollar collaboration with Novartis AG to jointly develop and market Amgen’s popular migraine-prevention treatment, Aimovig, triggered legal headaches for both companies in the U.S.

The drugmakers on Thursday filed separate lawsuits in Manhattan federal court, accusing each other of violating two collaboration agreements they struck in 2015 and 2017 to work together and divvy up sales across the globe of Aimovig, which was approved in the U.S. in 2018.

Novartis claims Amgen on April 2 wrongfully tried to back out of the agreements in a veiled attempt to keep "windfall" profits from the drug. The company, based in Switzerland, seeks a court order that Amgen’s alleged termination of the deals was invalid and that the agreements remain in effect.

Amgen claims Novartis breached the agreements because one of its affiliates was working on a competing product during the entire time they were collaborating. Amgen wants a court order affirming Novartis’s breach and seeks unspecified damages.

The deals, for now, remain in effect. 

Novartis says it spent hundreds of millions of dollars helping develop the drug with Amgen, contributing its expertise in neurosciences and marketing, leading to the drug’s approval in Europe in July and launches in 27 other countries.

"Amgen’s purpose is all too apparent," Novartis said. "On the heels of Aimovig’s successful U.S. launch, Amgen wants to cut Novartis Pharma out of the future sales of Aimovig."

Read More: Amgen’s Aimovig Launch: Aggressive Rebates Bakes Into 4Q Sales

Crucially, Novartis claims, Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen cooked up a "pretext" to get out of the deals by claiming Novartis violated a provision of one of the agreements that bars it from working on a competing drug.

But Amgen says it wasn’t a pretext. Instead, Amgen claims Novartis’s Sandoz generics unit struck a manufacturing deal with Bothell, Washington-based Alder BioPharmaceuticals to develop, manufacture and market a competing drug unbeknownst to Amgen, according to the complaint.

"Amgen asked Novartis to cure the breach," Amgen said in an emailed statement. "Novartis refused to do so and entered into an additional agreement with Alder committing to further manufacture the competing product."

Sandoz and Alder both said their agreement is being phased out over the next five years and declined to comment on the claims between Amgen and Novartis.

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