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Bayer, Regeneron Lose U.K. Patent Fight on Blockbuster Eye Drug

A potential blockbuster drug produced by Bayer AG and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. to treat a blindness-causing eye disorder infringes a patent held by Genentech Inc., a U.K. judge ruled.

Regeneron and Bayer asked a London court to revoke a Genentech European patent for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration and rule their VEGF Trap-Eye product, also known as Eylea, was valid.

Judge Christopher Floyd rejecting that request today in a written judgment, saying “the patent is infringed by VEGF Trap-Eye.”

The Eylea product, which is marketed by Regeneron in the U.S. and in other markets by Bayer, was identified by Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer as having potential sales of about $1 billion at a meeting with analysts earlier this month.

Doreen Schroeder, a Bayer spokeswoman, said the ruling only applied in the U.K. and that the patent will expire in October.

“We believe that the decision by the U.K. patents court is wrong and will seek to appeal it,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

Regeneron said in January it expected sales of Eylea to reach between $140 million and $160 million in 2012.

“There is no impact at all of this decision on the commercial availability or prospects for Eylea in the U.S.,” said Peter Dworkin, a spokesman for Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Regeneron.

Macular degeneration, a disorder caused by abnormal blood vessel growth behind the retina, is a leading cause of blindness in the elderly. Genentech is a unit of Basel, Switzerland-based Roche Holding AG.

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