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Merck Wins Patent Ruling Over Sandoz Version of Cancidas

Merck & Co. won a judge’s ruling that could help it block Novartis AG’s Sandoz unit from selling a generic copy of its Cancidas antifungal treatment until a patent expires in 2017.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler in Newark, New Jersey, yesterday rejected a Sandoz argument that the patent, for a formulation of the active ingredient of Cancidas, would have been obvious to researchers. Sandoz has conceded that it infringed the patent under Chesler’s view of what it covers.

“We’re pleased with the court’s ruling, which resolves all the substantive issues in Merck’s favor, and we look forward to the judge entering the final judgment in the near future,” Ron Rogers, a spokesman for Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck, said in an e-mailed statement.

Cancidas, first approved by regulators in January 2001, treats fungal infections, including fatal ones in people getting bone marrow transplants or cancer patients undergoing stem-cell transplants or chemotherapy. The drug generated $476 million in global sales for Merck in the first nine months of 2011. Sandoz earlier agreed not to sell generic Cancidas until a Merck patent expires in 2015, according to Merck regulatory filings.

The case is Merck & Co. v. Sandoz Inc., 10-cv-01625, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

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