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Zimmer Wins Genzyme Trial Over Knee-Arthritis Treatment

Zimmer Holdings Inc. and Seikagaku Corp. won a U.S. patent-infringement trial brought by Sanofi’s Genzyme over a treatment for arthritis in the knee.

A federal jury in Boston said Aug. 3 the Gel-One product made by Tokyo-based Seikagaku and distributed by Zimmer doesn’t infringe a Genzyme patent for a method to treat arthritic pain in the knee. The jury also said that the patent is invalid because it covered obvious variations of earlier work.

Genzyme’s Synvisc-One product was the only single-injection treatment approved by U.S. regulators until Gel-One was given clearance in March 2011, according to the complaint filed a month after the approval was granted. The injection of a hyaluronic acid gel provides pain relief for as long as six months, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Genzyme said.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock on Dec. 30 issued an order preventing Warsaw, Indiana-based Zimmer from selling Gel-One at a price less than $547.60 per injection or giving out free samples, so it didn’t undercut the price of Synvisc-One. The judge vacated that order following the jury verdict.

Synvisc and Gel-One use different compositions of the hyaluronic acid, and the patent covers a way of providing the treatment through a single injection rather than multiple injections over a period of time, said Sarah Columbia of McDermott Will & Emery in Boston, who represented Zimmer and Seikagaku.

Synvisc and Synvisc-One generated 184 million euros ($228 million) in the first half of the year for Sanofi. Sales were up 8.9 percent over the year-earlier period, the Paris-based company said July 26. Zimmer doesn’t break out sales of Gel-One.

Zimmer rose 76 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $59.78 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Sanofi American depositary receipts, two of which represent one ordinary share, rose 5 cents to $41.61.

The case is Genzyme Corp. v. Seikagaku Corp., 11cv10636, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Boston).

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