U.S. court invalidates two Sanofi Taxotere patents

PARIS, April 10 Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:09am EDT

PARIS, April 10 (Reuters) - A U.S. court has ruled that two patents covering Sanofi's Taxotere cancer treatment are invalid, confirming a 2010 ruling that helped pave the launch of generic versions of the drug.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Monday upheld a lower court finding that the two patents were invalid and unenforceable because the invention was obvious and the French drugmaker obtained the patents improperly.

Sanofi first sued generic drugmakers Hospira and Apotex Inc in 2008 for infringing the two patents.

Hospira and Apotex had sought approval from regulators to make a generic injectable form of docetaxel, the active ingredient in Taxotere.

The French drugmaker said in a statement that it was disappointed by the latest ruling and that it was evaluating its options.

Sanofi sells Taxotere in more than 100 countries to treat lung, prostate, gastric and head and neck cancer, but sales of the product have been dented by competition from cheaper generic copies in the key U.S. market and in western Europe.

In 2011, Taxotere generated sales of 922 million euros ($1.21 billion), down 57 percent from the previous year.

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