IBJNews

Lilly loses appeal over patent for cancer drug Gemzar

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Eli Lilly and Co., already facing competition for its antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs, lost a court bid over patent protection on its cancer medicine Gemzar, which could open the door to generic products.

A U.S. appeals court Wednesday said a lower court was correct to invalidate a patent on the medicine that expires in 2013. The patent is almost the same as one on Gemzar that expires in November, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said in a ruling posted on its website.

Gemzar, used for lung, breast, pancreatic and ovarian cancers, generated $747.4 million in U.S. sales last year. Globally, Gemzar sales were $1.36 billion for Indianapolis-based Lilly, down 21 percent from the previous year, the company said in its fourth-quarter earnings report.

“If Lilly suddenly loses more or less a billion-and-a-half-dollar drug, that’s a significant problem since they’re also losing Zyprexa next year,” Les Funtleyder, an analyst with New York-based Miller Tabak & Co., said. “It could have a significant impact to earnings.”

The decision is a victory for India’s Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which had challenged the patent, and generic- drug companies including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Novartis AG’s Sandoz that also are seeking to sell lower-cost versions of the medicine.

“It opens up the generic market some two years early on an incredibly important drug,” said lawyer James Hurst of Winston & Strawn in Chicago, who represented Mumbai-based Sun.

When a drug loses patent protection, typically its sales can fall as much as 80 percent in the next two to three years, Funtleyder said. Gemzar, which is given by injection, may see revenue deteriorate more slowly because the drug is harder to make, he said. Funtleyder has a “neutral” rating on Lilly shares and doesn’t own them.

U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh in Detroit invalidated the patent a year ago. Lilly continued to sue generic companies, including Sandoz and Hospira Inc., anticipating a victory at the appeals court. In March, a federal judge in Indianapolis upheld the patent that expires in 2010.

The appeals court said the 2013 patent covered an invention that was already protected through 2010. Hurst used the same double-patenting argument to invalidate Lilly’s claim on the antidepressant Prozac in 2000.

Mark Taylor, a spokesman for Lilly, said the company was preparing a statement. Denise Bradley, a spokeswoman for Petah Tikva, Israel-based Teva, said the company had no comment.

“We’re encouraged by this development and remain committed to bringing high-quality, low-price products to market as soon as possible,” said Daniel Rosenberg, a spokesman for Lake Forest, Ill.-based Hospira. A spokeswoman for Novartis didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Lilly is seeking to increase the speed of drug development as it faces patent expirations on two top-selling medicines, the antipsychotic Zyprexa next year and antidepressant Cymbalta in 2013.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

  5. Oh wait. Never mind.

ADVERTISEMENT