Lilly challenging Biogen patent in London lawsuit

Eli Lilly and Co. has sued Biogen Idec Inc. in a London court to revoke a European patent on a potential treatment for immune-system diseases.

Biogen’s patent on the use of a class of medicines known as BAFF inhibitors to regulate the activity of a type of white blood cell is “not new” and doesn’t “involve an inventive step,” Lilly said in court papers filed in London in November.

Eli Lilly, whose top-selling schizophrenia drug Zyprexa lost its U.S. patent protection in October, is working to overcome expiring patents by investing in research. The Indianapolis-based drugmaker has new treatments for Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer in final-stage trials.

Biogen, the world’s largest maker of medicines for multiple sclerosis, responded in November, saying its BAFF inhibitors patent is valid. Penny Gilbert, a lawyer for the Weston, Mass.-based company, didn’t respond to a phone call Wednesday requesting comment.

Lilly lost a related patent dispute before the United Kingdom Supreme Court in November when the court ruled for Rockville, Md.-based Human Genome Sciences Inc. over another potential treatment for immune diseases. Lilly had argued Human Genome’s list of uses for the neutrokine alpha protein was too vague.

Greg Kueterman, a spokesman for Lilly, declined to comment on the Biogen litigation because the case is ongoing.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.