AstraZeneca Loses Bid for Rehearing of Toprol-XL Case

AstraZeneca Plc (AZN), the U.K.'s second- biggest drugmaker, lost its appeal of a U.S. court ruling that opens the door to generic competition for the company's Toprol- XL blood-pressure treatment.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington today turned down AstraZeneca's bid for a rehearing of a decision that a patent on the drug is invalid because the chemical compound is covered by another patent. The July ruling was a victory for Novartis AG (NOVN)'s Eon Labs, KV Pharmaceutical Co. (KVPHQ) and Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. (WPI)'s Andrx unit.

U.S. sales of Toprol-XL contributed $670 million, or 27 cents a share, in the first six months of 2007 to London- based AstraZeneca's revenue. The company's sales of the drug are expected to plunge due to generic competition.

The appeals court ruled 2-to-1 in July that one of the patents for the drug covers the same thing as a different patent that expired. The decision not to rehear the case was announced on the court's Web site.

Officials with St. Louis-based KV, London-based AstraZeneca and Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

AstraZeneca's American depositary receipts, each representing one ordinary share, rose $1.18 to $52.30 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. KV shares rose 4 cents to $29.14.

The case is In Re Metoprolol Succinate Patent Litigation, 06-1254, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

To review the invalidated patent through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Web site, search for patent number 5,081,154 at http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm.

The other patent is 5,001,161.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeff St.Onge in Washington at jstonge@bloomberg.net; Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Patrick Oster at poster@bloomberg.net; Robert Simison at rsimison@bloomberg.net.

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