Patent win for Amgen29th October 2007
Biotech pharmaceutical company Amgen has won a crucial patent case which will pave the way for it to block Swiss drugmaker Roche from launching a rival drug in the United States.
According to the ruling from a federal court jury in Boston, Roche's anaemia drug Mircera, which the company had hoped to launched in the US, infringed Amgen's patents on 11 different counts.
Amgen had filed for protection of patents relating to its drugs Epogen and Aranesp, which treat anaemia by boosting the number of red blood cells.
The ruling means Amgen could have the lucrative US market to itself until 2012 at the earliest.
Sales of Epogen and Aranesp topped US$5.3 billion in the US last year, compared with a total of US$6.6 billion worldwide.
Roche had hoped to enter the market as a competitor with Mircera by having Amgen's patent claims invalidated.
Epogen and Aranesp are the biggest-selling biotech drugs in the world.
Now, Amgen says it is planning to seek a formal injunction in a November 15 hearing, which would bar Roche from selling Mircera in the US.
Roche says it is evaluating its legal options, including the possibility of an appeal, although industry analysts said it was unlikely that the company would now seek to launch Mircera in the US.
Brett Holley, analyst at CIBC World Markets, said such a strategy was likely to prove unsuccessful, as it seemed that Mircera did indeed infringe Amgen's patents.
However, the case has highlighted a strong need for competition to bring down the prices of biotech drugs, which are often made by a series of complex processes, each step of which is patented separately.
Biotech drugs reproduce human proteins for use the in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions.
Roche said it was disappointed with the court decision, and that US patients with chronic kidney disease would lose out as a result.
Mircera is approved in the European Union, where it competes freely with Amgen's drugs.
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Title: Patent win for Amgen
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 4539
Date Added: 29th Oct 2007