Pillsbury Law

Protecting a Life-Saving Breakthrough in Pharma

Velcade®, a proteasome inhibitor drug, is currently used in the treatment of at least two types of cancer: multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma. Since 2002, at least 160,000 patients have been treated with Velcade, which reportedly now generates $1.9 billion in annual sales. Two researchers at the University of Kansas, working under a contract with the National Institutes of Health, developed aspects of the critical drug delivery formulation. But the researchers did not receive inventorship credit on NIH’s patents—until Pillsbury litigators stepped in. Pillsbury filed a lawsuit against NIH in 2008. The challenge expanded when two drug companies that had licensed Velcade— a subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceuticals and a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson—intervened in the case on the side of NIH. After a lengthy arbitration, the arbitration panel ruled in favor of Pillsbury’s clients, determining that both researchers deserved to be added as co-inventors on the two formulation patents for Velcade.