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British Supreme Court rules in Eli Lilly's favor in drug dispute

July 7, 2017

Britain's Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Eli Lilly and Co. in a patent dispute with generic drugmaker Actavis over Lilly's Alimta cancer treatment.

Alimta is Lilly's third-best-selling drug, and the Indianapolis-based company has sought to protect it against generic competition.

The court announced Friday that Actavis products infringe Eli Lilly's patent in Britain, France, Italy and Spain.

The decision by the United Kingdom's top court upholds a 2015 ruling by the Court of Appeal in London.

The court says it will publish the full judgment on Wednesday.

Sales of Lilly’s pemetrexed disodium-based cancer treatment Alimta provide about 9 percent the drugmaker’s revenue, according to the latest figures. However, sales are threatened by generic competitors produced by rivals, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Novartis AG. Lilly has filed lawsuits in the U.S. and Europe to protect its patent.

Allergan Plc sold the Actavis business unit to  Teva Pharmaceutical last year, a spokeswoman said.

"While we do not yet know the court’s reasoning, we are pleased with the UK Supreme Court’s key conclusions that confirm the Alimta vitamin regimen patent would be infringed by these generic pemetrexed products in the UK, France, Italy and Spain prior to June 2021," said Michael J. Harrington, senior vice president and general counsel for Lilly, in a written statement.

Lilly shares were up 21 cents Friday morning, to $81.81 each.

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