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Drugs firm hails patents victory


A UK-based pharmaceutical giant is celebrating its latest victory in the battle to protect some of its most valuable medicines from unauthorised copies.

AstraZeneca, which has its headquarters in Macclesfield, Cheshire, sued two firms for trying to market generic versions of Seroquel (quetiapine), a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar depression.

Astra brought the case against Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and US drugs firm Sandoz, which both specialise in making generic medicines. Seroquel was Astra’s second best selling drug last year, generating revenues of £2 billion.

The US District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled that the company’s patent, which is due to run out in 2011, had been infringed.

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Three months ago, Astra settled with Indian drugs company Ranbaxy over an attempt to make copies of the UK firm’s best-selling ulcer pill, Nexium. Astra is understood to be pursuing dozens of similar cases at the moment.

Chief executive David Brennan said he welcomed the court’s decision. “Seroquel remains an important part of our company’s portfolio, benefiting patients and physicians throughout the world,” he said.

Astra’s profits fell 4% to £4.06 billion in 2007, with the impact of cheaper drug copies cited as a reason.

Copyright © PA Business 2008


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