UPDATE 1-US high court rejects Allergan's Sanctura patent appeal

Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:52am EDT

Oct 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected Allergan Inc's appeal of a ruling that favored generic drugmaker Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc over patents related to the treatment of an overactive bladder.

Allergan was challenging a June decision by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that its patents related to Sanctura XR were invalid because the treatment was "obvious," meaning it was highly likely to succeed based on information already known.

The Irvine, California-based company had accused Watson and its partners in a lawsuit of infringing the patents when creating a generic version of its drug, whose sales totaled about $56.8 million in 2011.

In its appeal, Allergan said the decision, if upheld, would set too low a bar for obviousness and could impede the development of "pioneer" drugs because inventors might fear that they were unpatentable.

The Supreme Court, without comment on Monday, refused to hear the case. Justice Samuel Alito did not participate in the court's decision to deny the appeal. The court's order provided no reason.

Overactive bladder afflicts more than 33 million, mostly elderly, Americans, Allergan said.

The case is Allergan Inc et al v. Watson Laboratories Inc, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-342.

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