Novartis Sues Actavis Over Exjade Iron-Control Drug Patents

Novartis AG (NOVN) sued generic-drug maker Actavis Group hf in federal court in Delaware alleging infringement of two U.S. patents for the iron-control drug Exjade.

Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, contends Actavis, of Zug, Switzerland, is wrongly planning to market copies of Exjade in the U.S. before the patents expire.

In reply, Actavis, with operations in Iceland and the U.S., has told Novartis its patents “are invalid, unenforceable” and the generic tablets won’t infringe, according to a complaint filed yesterday in Wilmington.

Also yesterday, a person knowledgeable about merger negotiations said Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. (WPI) is in talks to buy Actavis for as much as 5.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion), sending Watson shares soaring.

David Myers Jr., an Actavis spokesman, didn’t immediately return voice and e-mail messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Exjade can be used to treat patients with chronic anemia disorders who get blood transfusions that result in an excess of iron, which may cause damage to the heart, liver and other organs.

The case is Novartis v. Actavis, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To see the patents, click: 6,465,504; 6,596,750.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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