Abbott Says It Settled Sandoz Patent Suit Over Biaxin Generic Antibiotic

Abbott Laboratories said it settled a patent-infringement suit against Novartis AG’s Sandoz over a generic version of the antibiotic Biaxin XL.

Terms of the accord, which eliminates the need for a trial that was set to start today in federal court in Chicago, are confidential, said Scott Stoffel, an Abbott spokesman. The lawsuit was filed in 2005.

The drug, known by its chemical name of clarithromycin, already has competition from generic-drug makers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. Abbott’s sales from Biaxin fell to $14 million in the U.S. in 2008 from $458 million in 2004, when there was no competition for either the extended- or immediate-release dosages, according to the company’s annual reports.

Abbott sought to recoup some of the lost sales and prevent Sandoz from selling its copy until a patent expires in 2017. Abbott no longer reports Biaxin’s sales.

Pamela McKinlay, a spokeswoman for Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis, said she couldn’t immediately comment on the report of a settlement.

Sandoz, the world’s second-biggest maker of generic drugs, began selling a version of Biaxin in December 2006 and was ordered to stop four months later. Teva and Watson are licensed to sell generic-drug copies under settlements reached with Abbott Park, Illinois-based Abbott.

The case is Abbott Laboratories v. Sandoz Inc., 05-5373, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

-- With assistance from Susan Decker in Washington. Editors: Charles Carter, Andrew Dunn

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew M Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net.

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