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Eli Lilly loses patent lawsuit for Strattera

August 13, 2010
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Eli Lilly and Co. on Thursday lowered its revenue outlook for the year after it lost a patent lawsuit over its attention deficit hyperactivity drug Strattera.

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled against the company, saying its method-of-use patent for the drug is invalid.

Strattera last year generated $609 million in revenue, about 3 percent of Lilly's total. The patent had been set to expire in May 2017.

The drugmaker said it plans to appeal the ruling, but noted that it now faces the prospects of potentially having to compete with a generic version of the drug.

"Assuming a launch of a generic version of Strattera in the U.S., the loss of revenue will undoubtedly add to the challenges we will face during upcoming patent expirations on other key products," said John Lechleiter, the company's chairman and chief executive.

As a result, the company said it now expects revenue growth this year to be in the low to mid-single digits. It previously anticipated revenue to grow in the mid-single digits.

It also plans to lower its costs by at least $1 billion by the end of next year and reduce its full-time work force.

Lilly has announced more than 2,000 job cuts toward its goal of 5,500 cuts, which the company set in September.

Due to those measures, the company expects it will generate enough cash in the coming years to fund research and development and make other necessary investments, Lechleiter said.

"In addition, we do not intend to deviate from our plan to maintain our dividend at least at its current level," he added.

The ruling on Strattera is the latest court setback for Eli Lilly in recent weeks.

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a lower court's ruling that a patent on its cancer drug Gemzar is invalid. The drug is set to lose patent exclusivity on Nov. 15.

The company is still waiting a court decision on its osteoporosis drug Evista. And a patent trial on the cancer drug Alimta is set to start on Nov. 8.

Lilly’s lack of new medicines to replace best-selling drugs Zyprexa and Cymbalta, which will lose their patent protection in 2011 and 2013, respectively, has spooked investors.

Eli Lilly shares fell 88 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $35.72 in aftermarket trading after slipping 11 cents to $36.60 during the regular session.

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