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Trial Opens in Doctor's Suit Against Genentech

October 20, 2006|From Reuters

A federal trial began Thursday pitting top biotechnology company Genentech Inc. against an ophthalmologist who claims he helped develop the company's Lucentis eye disease drug and deserves a share of its sales.

The trial in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia will determine whether Dr. Kourosh Dastgheib should be allowed a share of the revenue from Lucentis, which is approved to treat macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

Dastgheib claims that while conducting research into the disease, he discovered that a protein known as the vascular endothelial growth factor was directly implicated in causing macular degeneration.

Dastgheib's lawsuit, filed in March 2004, claims that an unnamed Genentech representative approached him in December 1995 and, in return for his research materials and methods, offered him 1% of the gross revenue from any product that Genentech succeeded in marketing for the treatment of macular degeneration and other diseases of the eye.

Dastgheib said Genentech also agreed to recognize his discovery in the scientific and medical community.

South San Francisco-based Genentech denies Dastgheib's claims and says he has no written contract to support them.

"The lawsuit relates to an alleged oral contract related to work allegedly performed by the plaintiff," Genentech spokeswoman Caroline Pecquet said. "We deny the plaintiff's claims."

Lucentis posted third-quarter sales of $153 million, exceeding Wall Street's expectations.

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