Legal Business

Human nature – cutting edge legal work looms for the drugs revolutionising healthcare

As patents for pioneering biotech drugs near expiry, life sciences companies are hunting new and controversial products. Can law firms help clients win the race?

For those close to the biotech industry, the events of a 2006 clinical trial at Northwick Park Hospital in London are etched firmly in the memory. In what was later dubbed the ‘Elephant Man’ trial, six healthy young men suffered catastrophic multiple organ failures within hours of testing a biologic – a drug created by a biological process – intended to treat leukaemia and rheumatoid arthritis. The volunteers became critically ill, including the loss of fingers and toes, after the monoclonal antibody TGN1412 caused near-fatal side effects. The drug was immediately withdrawn from development and its German-based creator TeGenero filed for insolvency four months later.