Two Kansas University researchers will have their names added as co-inventors on a patent for a successful cancer drug after they won a federal lawsuit.
According to federal court documents, the KU Center for Research brought the lawsuit in 2008 against the National Institutes of Health. The lawsuit alleged that Val Stella, a distinguished professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, and Wanda Waugh, a research assistant at KU who retired in 1999, were significantly involved in the creation of the drug, Velcade, but were not listed on two patents associated with it.
The lawsuit alleges that the NIH and its project officer on the drug, Dr. Shanker Gupta, asked Stella to research how to make a stable liquid solution for the drug so it could be delivered safely to humans. On Friday, an arbitration panel released its ruling in favor of the KU researchers.
Steve Warren, KU’s vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, said in a written statement on Friday that the ruling further confirms KU’s status as a leader in drug discovery, formulation and delivery research.
“Val Stella is internationally known for his work in formulating new pharmaceuticals and for making discoveries that benefit patients and society,” Warren said in the statement. “Professor Stella and research assistant Wanda Waugh co-invented crucial formulations that give Velcade, a highly successful medication for treating blood cancers, long-term shelf-life and stability. This ruling ensures they will receive proper recognition for their discoveries, which for Professor Stella are his 35th and 36th patents.”
University officials would not comment beyond the written statement Friday. But in 2008, Warren said the university and the researchers would both be in line to benefit financially if the researchers became co-inventors.
At the time, the company Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. exclusively licensed two patents for the anti-cancer drug, and was able to generate revenues from the drug of $265.2 million in 2007 and $220.5 million in 2006.
— Higher education reporter Andy Hyland can be reached at 832-6388. Follow him at Twitter.com/LJW_KU.