UK trust accuses UCB's Cimzia of infringing patent

Wed Aug 4, 2010 12:17pm EDT

* Trust demands royalties from UCB for Cimzia

* Follows similar lawsuit against Amgen and Wyeth

By Tom Hals

WILMINGTON, Del., Aug 4 (Reuters) - UCB's (UCB.BR) Cimzia arthritis drug, which the Belgian company has forecast could top $2 billion in annual sales, is accused of infringing a patent held by a British charitable trust.

The Mathilda and Terence Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology Trust brought the case in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. federal court in Delaware, demanding royalties and damages.

The complaint against UCB says the patent was issued in 2001 and it said UCB infringes it by promoting the use of Cimzia with methotrexate.

Cimzia is one of UCB's three key hopes for growth after patents expire on some of its big-selling drugs. UCB has said annual Cimzia sales could top 1.5 billion euros, or about $2 billion, in the coming years.

UCB had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

The trust sued Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) and Wyeth, a unit of Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), last year for infringing with their Enbrel arthritis drug. That lawsuit was withdrawn, presumably after the two companies agreed to pay the trust royalties.

The trust's lawsuit against UCB says that "Centocor, Abbott Laboratories, Amgen and Wyeth (Pfizer) have paid to Kennedy tens of millions of dollars in royalties."

The case is The Mathilda and Terence Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology Trust v UCB Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware, No. 10-cv-00650. (Reporting by Tom Hals; Additional reporting by Phil Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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