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

The other patent is 5,001,161.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeff St.Onge in Washington at; Susan Decker in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Patrick Oster at; Robert Simison at

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