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Merial Sued Over Frontline Flea, Tick Medicine Patents

Merial Ltd., an animal-health products unit of Sanofi, France’s largest drugmaker, was sued by Horizon Valley Generics Inc., which asked for a ruling that it doesn’t violate Merial’s patent for Frontline flea and tick control products for pets.

HVG and its Libourne, France-based parent, Ceva Sante Animale SA, are asking a judge to find Merial’s patent covering the fipronil-based treatment is invalid, according to a complaint filed today in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

HVG and Ceva Sante have asked for a jury trial to allow them to market a generic alternative in the U.S. in the near future. The companies said in court papers they are initiating the lawsuit against Duluth, Georgia-based Merial because of track record of aggressive litigation against competitors.

Merial has litigated “its fipronil-related patent rights to stop perceived competitors from bringing to market, or even attempting to develop, products that could potentially compete with its Frontline series of products,” HVG lawyers said in the lawsuit. Merial has brought at least five separate lawsuits claiming infringement of the fipronil-based patent in the last several years, according to court filings.

Jack Cox, a spokesman for Sanofi, didn’t immediately return a phone call and e-mail message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Horizon Valley Generics Inc. v. Merial Ltd., U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To see the patent, click: 6,096,329.

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