Eli Lilly Wins Patent Victory in UK Lawsuit

Published: Jun 25, 2015

Eli Lilly (LLY) Wins Patent Victory in UK Lawsuit
June 25, 2015
By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Sr. Editor

A British court has ruled that Eli Lilly and Company will continue to have patent protection for its blockbuster cancer drug Alimta, knocking back claims by rival Actavis plc and setting the stage for sales that also apply to Italy, France and Spain.

Actavis may now appeal that ruling to the United Kingdom Supreme Court, and has indicated it may ask the court to decide whether a separate product would also infringe on that same patent issue. Lilly said in a statement Thursday that it would defend any further legal action “vigorously.”

That vigor is understandable: Alimta is the company’s most lucrative drug. This decision is the result on an Eli Lilly appeal of a 2014 decision and now extends Alimta’s patent into 2021. It had previously expired in December 2015, leaving competitors like Actavis hungrily eyeing the $2.79 billion Lilly raked in from sales of the drug last year.

Paul Sperber, a trader at ISI Evercore noted in a daily trading report Thursday that the news had pushed Lilly stock up after multiple targets upgraded its rating. “BAML upgraded to buy from neutral based on pipeline targets over the next 12 months, with a projected target to $101 from $74 per share,” he said.

The London court’s decision puts the kibosh on Actavis’s rollout of a generic version of Alimta and applies to a vitamin regimen Lilly gives to patients in order to avoid side effects, a combo which includes Vitamin B12 and folic acid.

“[This] increases the likelihood that the vitamin regimen patents for Alimta will provide exclusivity in the UK, France, Italy and Spain through June 2021," said Lilly in a statement Thursday.

The company still faces an uphill battle in Germany, where the legal system there has continued to back Actavis’s plan. The company has asked to appeal that ruling by the Dusseldorf Court of Appeal.

Lilly’s general counsel, Michael J. Harrington, said Thursday that the company will continue to defend the case globally.

“We continue to emphasize that protection of intellectual property rights is extremely important to the biopharmaceutical industry and the patients we serve,” he said. “Intellectual property right provide assurances of market exclusivity that help support the development of the next generation of innovative medicines to treat unmet medical needs.”

As Rumors Swirl About GlaxoSmithKline Bid, Who Could Suitors Be?
Rumors are swirling that Swiss-based Roche and U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson are eying the U.K. company for approximately $143 billion. But Roche and J&J aren’t the only companies though who have been thought could go after the elephant that is Glaxo.

Last month there was buzz that Pfizer Inc. was considering acquiring Glaxo, a year after it failed to acquire AstraZeneca PLC . Just this month over a third of respondents in a poll conducted by BioSpace believe that AstraZeneca PLC could be in the running to acquire struggling GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

So BioSpace wants to ask our readers again what they predict for this new dealmaking bonanza. Will Glaxo go—and if so, to whom?

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