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Sanofi loses appeal over Roche/Biogen patent infringement

Court upholds decision that Genentech did not use Sanofi inventions during development of Rituxan and Avastin

A US appeals court had determined that Roche's Genentech division and Biogen Idec did not infringe patents held by Sanofi during the development of cancer drugs Rituxan and Avastin.

Sanofi had said that Genentech and Biogen had used inventions it owned to enhance the expression of a gene and make production of the drugs more efficient.

However, the US court upheld a previous decision that both the companies used different processes than those covered by Sanofi's patent, and so did not infringe on the France-based pharma firm's exclusivity.

The original suit was filed in 2008 after Genentech cancelled a licensing agreement with Sanofi that stretched back to 1991

Avastin is manufactured and marketed by solely Roche for use in several cancers, while Rituxan, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is co-marketed with Biogen in the US.

As reported in Bloomberg, Sanofi spokesperson Carrie Brown said the company was disappointed in the decision and is “currently evaluating its options and next steps.”

The two drugs are among Roche's best-selling products, with Rituxan achieving sales of $6.6bn during 2011, and Avastin making $5.81bn.

26th March 2012

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