Just a few years ago, Genentech argued that a version of the heart attack drug TPA made by Wellcome was so like its own that it sued for patent infringement--and won. Now, the biotech pioneer is screaming that TPA and the Wellcome version, known as duteplase, are as different as night and day. In fact, on Feb. 25, it filed suit against another rival, SmithKline Beecham, for implying in promotional materials that Genentech's TPA and duteplase were equivalent.
Why the flip-flop? A new study unveiled on Mar. 2 found that three TPA rivals, including duteplase, are roughly equivalent in reducing deaths from heart attacks. All three cost much less than Genentech's version, which last year accounted for 44% of the company's $476 million in revenues.