The recently published NPA white paper on Alzheimer's patents analysed the 48,000 Alzheimer's patents in a variety of ways. But which patent applicants had the strongest patent portfolios?
Traditionally such analysis has been done by counting the patents filed by different applicants. However it is self-evident that all patents are not equal in value or importance, and NPA uses the wealth of information contained in the citation links between patents to rank the expected relative value of patents. In this particular study we identified the leading 2,153 patents based on their strength of citation connections, and ranked all of these patents in order. A number of these patents were found to have equal rankings (for example, there were two 5th ranked patents, two 16th ranked patents, etc) meaning that there were 915 unique patent rankings. The highest ranked patent was given 915 'patent points' in our analysis, the second ranked patent 914 points, and so on until the last ranked of the 2153 leading patents was assigned 1 point. By adding up the patent points for given patent applicants, it is possible to rank patent portfolios in a way that takes into account the relative quality of the patents in these portfolios.
We also aimed to agglomerate the patent portfolios of subsidiaries of larger patent owners into the parent company. While is was impractical to determine the ultimate owner of all 2153 patents, we did identify the current ultimate owner of all of the largest portfolios. For example, Wyeth patents are now all controlled by Pfizer, and there are many other examples of similar consolidation. Similarily we combined all patents owned by agencies of the US Government under the one owner "US Goverment Agencies".
But enough of the background - what did we find? Details from the top 20 portfolios are shown in the table below.This shows the 20 patent applicants with the strongest portfolios, their relative strength in relation the leading applicant, the number of patents in the leading 2153 patents, and some details of their top ranked patent in this study. There are also some details of the patent cluster (grouping of similar patents as determined by the NPA algorithms) where the leading patent is found, along with the most important cluster for each applicant (further details of these clusters are found in the white paper).
|Row Labels||Relative NPA patent portfolio strength||Count of patent||Top ranked patent (filing year)||Patent title||Cluster title where leading patent is found||NPA ranking of patent within cluster||Most dominant cluster for applicant|
|Pfizer (US)||100%||216||US7927594, (2005)||Antibodies directed against amyloid-beta peptide||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||27||Fibrinolysis inhibition targeting plasminogen and serine|
|GlaxoSmithKline (UK)||63%||166||US5985242, (1997)||Modulators of beta-amyloid peptide aggregation comprising D-amino acids||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||42||GSK-3 - Tau fibrillation inhibition/ Hormonal and kinase|
|Elan (Ireland)||48%||82||US6114133, (1994)||Methods for aiding in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease by measuring amyloid-B peptide (x>=41)||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||26||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid|
|Merck (US)||46%||144||US7192944, (2004)||Substituted azetidinone compounds, processes for preparing the same, formulations and uses thereof||Seratonin receptor agonists||1||Secretase inhibitors (β and γ)|
|Vertex Pharmaceuticals (US)||38%||107||US7531536, (2003)||Pyrazole compounds useful as protein kinase inhibitors||GSK-3 - Tau fibrillation inhibition/ Hormonal and kinase||1||GSK-3 - Tau fibrillation inhibition/ Hormonal and kinase|
|Elan/Pfizer (IR/US)||37%||66||US6420534, (2001)||Alzheimer's disease secretase, APP substrates therefor, and uses thereof||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||30||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid|
|33%||39||US7402590, (2006)||Spiroazacyclic compounds as monoamine receptor modulators||Seratonin receptor agonists||1||Seratonin receptor agonists|
|33%||33||US6743427, (2000)||Prevention and treatment of amyloidogenic disease||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||2||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid|
|Elan/Lilly (IR/US)||19%||28||US5593846, (1995)||Methods for the detection of soluble B-amyloid peptide||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||13||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid|
|AstraZeneca (UK)||17%||69||WO2007058602, (2006)||Novel 2-amino-imidazole-4-one compounds and their use in the manufacture of a medicament to be used in the treatment of cognitive impairment, alzheimer's disease, neurodegeneration and dementia||Secretase inhibitors (β and γ)||12||Secretase inhibitors (β and γ)|
|US Government agencies||17%||31||US6313268, (1999)||Secretases related to Alzheimer's dementia||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||49||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid|
|Eisai (JP)||16%||44||US7667041, (2005)||Cinnamide compound||Sulfonamide derivatives targeting β-amyloid||2||Sulfonamide derivatives targeting β-amyloid|
|Elan/Johnson & Johnson/Pfizer||13%||14||US7189819, (2001)||Humanized antibodies that recognize beta amyloid peptide||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||1||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid|
|Boehringer Ingelheim (Germany)||12%||43||WO2001036403, (2000)||Urea derivatives as anti-inflammatory agents||GSK-3 - Tau fibrillation inhibition/ Hormonal and kinase||35||Metalloproteinase inhibitors|
|Merck/Ligand (US/US)||12%||24||US7700603, (2005)||Heterocyclic aspartyl protease inhibitors||Secretase inhibitors (β and γ)||1||IL-8 receptor agonists|
|Bellus Health (CA)||11%||21||WO2001039796, (2000)||Vaccine for the prevention and treatment of alzheimer's and amyloid related diseases||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||48||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid|
|Johnson & Johnson (US)||9%||31||US5387742, (1991)||Transgenic mice displaying the amyloid-forming pathology of alzheimer's disease||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||7||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid|
|Bayer (Germany)||9%||23||US5786180, (1995)||Monoclonal antibody 369.2B specific for beta A4 peptide||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid||132||Peptides and antibodies targeting β-amyloid|
|Bristol-Myers Squibb (US)||8%||39||US6670357, (2001)||Methods of treating p38 kinase-associated conditions and pyrrolotriazine compounds useful as kinase inhibitors||GSK-3 - Tau fibrillation inhibition/ Hormonal and kinase||20||Broker patents|
Teva Pharmaceutical (Israel)
|8%||29||US5877218, (1995)||Compositions containing and methods of using 1-aminoindan and derivatives thereof and process for preparing optically active 1-aminoindan derivatives||Anti Convulsants - non-reversible MAO-B inhibitor||1||Anti Convulsants - non-reversible MAO-B inhibitor|
Many of the leading applicants, such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Astrazeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Bayer and Bristol Myers Squibb are well known pharmaceutical companies and their placement in this table may not surprise observers. The position of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson is further enhanced by their share of the portfolios jointly owned along with Elan.
There are also some smaller and more specialised companies with strong portfolios. These smaller companies are led by Elan, which describes itself as 'a neuroscience-focused biotechnology company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland', and which owns a strong portfolio of Alzheimer's patent both by itself and together with larger pharmaceutical companies. Other smaller companies include Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Acadia Pharmaceuticals, both of the US, Boehringer Ingelheim of Germany, Bellus Health of Canada, and Teva Pharmaceuticals of Israel.
The Alzheimer's NPA report also noted that the clusters formed into two 'Groupings' of clusters (best seen in the Alzheimer's NPA landscape plots). One grouping of clusters were related to the Amyloid protein, and the second grouping to the Tau protein. In the figure below, the leading ten applicants in the above list are compared in terms of where their patents fall within these two Groupings.
This image shows that the large pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck (and to a lesser extent AstraZeneca) all have patent portfolios divided between the two Groupings of clusters. In contrast, the other applicants in this top ten list are focussed in just one of these groupings. Elan (and its partners) and Acadia Pharmaceuticals are both focussed on the Amyloid Grouping, while Vertex Pharmaceuticals is focused on the Tau Grouping.
But will these patent portfolio's translate to commercial success? One of the pleasing results from the Alzheimer's NPA white paper was the relatively young (compared other NPA studies we have done) age profile of the leading patents, which suggests a lot of recent research and related patent filing activity. The flip side of this recent activity is that even the more promising of these patented drugs will still be going through drug trials, and so we can only wait to find out which of these patented drugs are commercially successful.