On January 26, 2011, Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, Inc. (Novartis) filed a civil action against Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and other biopharmaceutical companies in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. Novartis claims willful infringement by Alexion of U.S. Patent No. 5,688,688. Novartis seeks, among other things, monetary damages.
Products and Development Programs
The human immune system defends the body from attack or invasion by infectious agents or pathogens. This is accomplished through a complex system of proteins and cells, primarily complement proteins, antibodies
and white blood cells, each with a specialized function. Under normal circumstances, complement proteins, together with antibodies and white blood cells, act to protect the body by removing:
cells containing foreign proteins known as antigens; and
potential disease-causing combinations of antigens and antibodies known as immune complexes.
When activated by certain stimuli, the immune system triggers a series of enzymatic and biochemical reactions called the complement cascade that results in an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is one of the immune system’s weapons against foreign pathogens or otherwise diseased tissue. However, under certain circumstances, the complement cascade may cause excessive or inappropriate activation, which may result in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions and damage to healthy tissues.
We have focused certain of our product development programs on anti-inflammatory therapeutics for diseases for which we believe current treatments are either non-existent or inadequate. Eculizumab is an antibody known as a C5 terminal complement inhibitor (C5 Inhibitor), which is designed to selectively block the production of inflammation-causing proteins of the complement cascade. We believe that selective suppression of this immune response may provide a significant therapeutic advantage relative to existing therapies. In addition to PNH and aHUS, for which the use of eculizumab has been approved in the United States and Europe and for PNH in several other territories, we believe that C5 Inhibitors may be useful in the treatment of a variety of other serious diseases and conditions resulting from uncontrolled complement activation.
Our most advanced programs focus on two therapeutic areas: hematology and nephrology. We are also advancing our pipeline programs in neurology, metabolic disorders, oncology, and ophthalmology.
Soliris is designed to inhibit a specific aspect of the complement component of the immune system and thereby treat inflammation associated with chronic disorders in the therapeutic areas of hematology, nephrology including transplant rejection and neurology. Soliris is a humanized antibody which, administered at the doses currently prescribed, generally blocks complement activity for one to two weeks after a single dose.