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Ivax Wins Decision in Patent Dispute

January 15, 2002|From Bloomberg News

Ivax Corp. said a U.S. District Court judge invalidated American BioScience Inc.'s patent claims on Ivax's generic version of Taxol, the latest in a long-running patent dispute over the cancer drug.

Ivax last month asked the judge in Los Angeles to rule that a Taxol-related patent held by ABI was invalid because it didn't cover anything new. Ivax has accused the drug's original marketer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of using ABI to help delay generic competition on Taxol by listing the ABI patent in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's patent registry.

Ivax started selling its copy of Taxol, a drug with annual sales of about $1.6 billion, in October 2000 after a ruling against Bristol-Myers and the court-ordered removal of American BioScience's patent from the FDA registry. ABI has contested the approval of Ivax's drug.

"What this means is that it's about 90% resolved but still not 100% resolved," said Steven Valiquette, an analyst at UBS Warburg who has a "strong buy" rating on Ivax. "There's still the possibility of an [ABI] appeal in California, and we don't yet know how D.C. court will rule."

On Nov. 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the FDA erred in approving the generic, jeopardizing Ivax's right to sell the drug. Ivax separately has asked for reconsideration of that ruling.

Ivax announced the latest ruling in a statement. Shares of Miami-based Ivax rose 20 cents to $20.83 on the American Stock Exchange.

"The summary judgment [in California] helps Ivax, because if it had gone to a full court, Ivax's right to sell the drug may have been temporarily revoked while the court decided," said Valiquette, who said he doesn't own shares of Ivax.

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