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Lilly’s Gemzar patent upheld

BY Alaric DeArment

INDIANAPOLIS A court has upheld Eli Lilly’s patent on an injected drug for treating cancer, the drug maker announced Thursday.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana upheld the validity of Lilly’s compound patent on Gemzar (gemcitabine hydrochloride), maintaining the company’s U.S. exclusivity for the drug through Nov. 15, blocking Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ attempt to market a generic version.

A second patent for the drug, which would have expired in 2013 and covered the drug’s Food and Drug Administration-approved uses, was ruled invalid by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in a separate case. Because Lilly has appealed the Michigan court’s decision, the Indiana court ruled that Lilly could not enforce the 2013 patent in the Indiana case.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling upholding the validity of Gemzar’s compound patent and remain optimistic that a successful appeal of the Michigan decision on the Gemzar method-of-use patent will retain U.S. exclusivity for Gemzar into 2013,” Lilly SVP and general counsel Robert Armitage said. “Protection of intellectual property rights is extremely important to the biopharmaceutical industry and the physicians and patients we serve, as these rights help support the development of the next generation of innovative medicines to treat unmet medical needs.”

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Report: Prescription drug savings sought in Massachusetts

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON Massachusetts is the only state that does not allow the use of coupons to purchase prescription drugs, but some people hope to change that, according to published reports.

The Boston Business Journal reported Tuesday that a group of lawmakers, health officials and members of professional and industry groups rallied to support legislation that would allow the use of discounts from manufacturers and co-pay assistance programs to help pay for drugs.

The newspaper quoted a spokesman for the Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association as saying that previous attempts to enable the use of coupons have been blocked by insurance companies that fear profit loss.

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AstraZeneca, Rigel get green light for licensing partnership

BY Alaric DeArment

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. A licensing agreement between AstraZeneca and Rigel Pharmaceuticals for a rheumatoid arthritis treatment has gone into effect, following the expiration of the waiting period required by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, Rigel announced Monday.

The expiration of the waiting period makes Rigel eligible for a payment of $100 million from the Anglo-Swedish drug maker, under terms of a deal the two companies entered whereby AstraZeneca will gain development and sales rights to Rigel’s arthritis drug R788 (fostamatinib disodium). The drug recently completed phase 2 clinical trials.

AstraZeneca also will receive exclusive rights to other Rigel drugs, as well as additional uses for R788. Rigel will receive up to $345 million in milestone payments and up to $800 million in royalties.

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