Judge asks if Allergan’s patent deal with Mohawk tribe is a ‘sham’

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CEO of global pharamceutical company Allergan Brenton Saunders.

Scrutiny of Allergan’s unusual patent partnership with a Native American tribe continued to ratchet higher Friday, with a federal judge raising the question of whether the deal is “a sham.”

That judge now is ordering Allergan to address whether it will name the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe as a co-plaintiff in its federal patent infringement lawsuit over the blockbuster eye drug Restasis.

And one law professor said that question could open the drugmaker up to further legal challenges over the tribe’s immunity in another legal venue.

Judge William Bryson, who is overseeing the federal patent infringement case, noted that on Sept. 8, after the case went to trial, Allergan told him that it expects to have the Mohawk tribe join Allergan “as a co-plaintiff in due course.”

But “no motion to join the Tribe has been forthcoming during the month since,” Bryson wrote in the order in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, where Allergan is suing Teva Pharmaceutical, Mylan and other companies to block them from selling competitors to Restasis on patent-infringement grounds. The drug draws about $1.5 billion in annual revenue for Allergan.

Noting that he soon needs to issue his decision in the case, Bryson ordered Allergan and the defendants to file briefs by Oct. 13 “addressing the question wheth

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