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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | ORANGE COUNTY BRIEFLY

Allergan Sues Rival Over Glaucoma Drugs

March 03, 2001|Dow Jones

Moving to gain the upper hand in a possible legal battle, Allergan Inc. has fired the first shot.

The Irvine specialty pharmaceutical company, which develops eye care products, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Pharmacia Corp. in a federal district court in Delaware. It is seeking a court ruling that its glaucoma treatment, Lumigan, doesn't infringe Pharmacia's patents protecting its own glaucoma drug, Xalatan, and that such patents aren't valid.

Allergan asked for declaratory relief because "it was clear that Pharmacia intended to sue Allergan," said Allergan spokeswoman Suki Shattuck, citing past litigation actions regarding Pharmacia's other drugs.

Pharmacia said it hasn't been served with the complaint and doesn't know which patents Allergan is challenging or Lumigan's chemical structure.

Pharmacia didn't say whether it would sue Allergan but noted that it intends to "vigorously enforce" its intellectual property and is "confident" that patents protecting Xalatan, which had sales of $693 million in 2000, are valid and enforceable.

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