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Actavis Wins Patent Appeal for Generic to Teva’s Fentora

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Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Actavis Inc.’s generic version of the painkiller Fentora wouldn’t infringe two patents owned by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s Cephalon unit, a U.S. appeals court ruled today.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a finding the generic version made by Actavis didn’t copy the way the drug is delivered into the system through a mucous membrane. The appeals court did overturn a lower court ruling that the patents are invalid, reviving the patents so Cephalon can assert them against other companies.

The infringement decision is largely symbolic as another patent owned by Cephalon prevents Actavis, which recently changed its name from Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., from entering the market until October 2019. Fentora is approved to relieve sudden episodes of cancer pain in adults already taking opioids, or morphine-like drugs.

“The decision was favorable in terms of infringement, but we still can’t launch,” said Charlie Mayr, a spokesman for Parsippany, New Jersey-based Actavis.

Teva, based in Petach Tikva, Israel, bought Cephalon in 2011. The company is asserting the two patents in this case, along with two others, in a case against Mylan Inc. that is scheduled for trial in March, said Denise Bradley, a Teva spokeswoman.

The case is Cephalon Inc. v. Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., 2011-1325, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Cephalon Inc. v. Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., 08cv330, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net