ALBANY — A New Jersey drug development company is taking court action against an Albany-based drug research, development and manufacturing company, alleging fraud and attempted takeover of intellectual property.
At issue is research that could help limit the potentially deadly abuse of opioid painkillers. The plaintiffs, 3ST Research LLC and lead scientist Dr. John Thottathil, charge that Albany Molecular Research Inc. has caused research into the matter to stall as a wave of opioid abuse and deaths sweeps parts of the country.
In the legal action, filed July 31 in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, they seek a jury trial in the matter and call for actual, consequential and punitive damages; declaration that Thottathil is the sole inventor; disclosure of all AMRI lab results; and assistance for Thottathil in amending his patent filings if he agrees or the court decides that one or more AMRI employees contributed to his patent.
In a statement announcing the legal action Tuesday, 3ST Research said Thottathil invented technology to address abuse of opioids such as oxycodone, then supervised lab work on the technology that had been subcontracted to AMRI. It alleges that AMRI fraudulently appropriated this research for its own benefit; added its employees as co-inventors to patents on the research; and sought to gain control of the intellectual property.
AMRI said Wednesday it does not comment on pending litigation.
On Wednesday, 3ST Research told The Daily Gazette that Thottathil Prodrug Technology works by chemically altering the opioid to eliminate the euphoric rush that can be obtained by crushing pills and then snorting or injecting the powder.
Drug abusers chasing that rush risk addiction, overdose and death.
Taken as prescribed, the altered medication would still work as originally intended — stomach enzymes would activate the pain-killing ingredients.
When the research process stalled 15 months ago amid disagreements between the two companies, a number of compounds had gone into animal testing, 3ST Reseach said, and those results would still need to be finalized before seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. FDA review would take 18 to 24 months, the company said. It estimated that if the process were to restart tomorrow, it would be less than 36 months before the new compound would be ready for the market.
Under an ideal scenario, 3ST Research said, it would carry the product through the research phase and perhaps also the approval phase, then license the product for manufacture.
AMRI was acquired earlier this year by Carlyle Group and GTCR, two private-equity firms.