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Eli Lilly Wins Cancer Drug Patent Case at U.K. Supreme Court

  • Judges uphold patents covering third-best selling drug Alimta
  • Products by Actavis infringe patents on cancer treatment

Eli Lilly & Co. won a patent dispute with Actavis at the U.K.’s top court, marking a victory in a long-running legal campaign to defend its third best-selling drug, Alimta, from rival products.

The London-based Supreme Court found that Actavis products infringe Lilly patents in the U.K., France, Italy and Spain, a spokesman said. The judges will release a full decision on Wednesday. Allergan Plc sold the Actavis business unit to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. last year, a spokeswoman said.

Sales of Lilly’s pemetrexed disodium-based cancer treatment Alimta provide about 9 percent the drugmaker’s revenue, according to the latest figures. However, sales are threatened by generic competitors produced by rivals including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Novartis AG. Lilly has filed lawsuits in the U.S. and Europe to protect its patent.

"While we do not yet know the court’s reasoning, we are pleased with the UK.. Supreme Court’s key conclusions that confirm the Alimta vitamin regimen patent would be infringed by these generic pemetrexed products in the UK, France, Italy and Spain prior to June 2021," said Michael J. Harrington, senior vice president and general counsel for Lilly.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected because of a misspelling of a company’s name in the headline.)

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