In a complaint filed in Illinois federal court, AbbVie alleges that the Icelandic biopharma company Alvotech sought to copy its rheumatoid arthritis blockbuster biologic Humira (adalimumab).
The lawsuit accuses Alvotech of hiring a former AbbVie employee, Rongzan Ho, to help it develop a copycat version of Humira.
Ho, a team leader of upstream manufacturing for Humira, was well-versed in the processes involved in manufacturing the drug.
Ho relayed to AbbVie in an exit interview that he was leaving “mainly to learn single-use bioreactors and other new technologies.”
Ho left AbbVie in 2018 to join Abbvie and provided the company with proprietary spreadsheets, according to the complaint, which also accuses Alvotech of poaching other former AbbVie employees.
In November, Alvotech announced that the FDA had accepted its biologics license application to review its proposed Humira biosimilar. “AVT02 is highly similar to its reference product in terms of structure and function, which was assessed using a comprehensive set of state-of-the-art and orthogonal analytical methods,” the company said in a press release.
Alvotech announced in March 2020 that it was attempting to win approval to a biosimilar monoclonal antibody similar to Humira.
AbbVie said that it invested more than $5 billion in R&D to develop the drug.
The case is titled AbbVie Inc. et al. v. Alvotech hf. The case number 1:21-cv-01530 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.