U.S. justices agree to hear Teva's Copaxone appeal

WASHINGTON, March 31 Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:36am EDT

WASHINGTON, March 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal filed by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd in a patent fight over top-selling multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, a move that could deter generic manufacturers from introducing cheaper versions onto the market as soon as May.

By agreeing to hear the case, the high court cast into doubt a July 2013 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in favor of two teams developing cheaper generic forms of Copaxone: one involving Novartis AG's Sandoz Inc and Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc and another involving Mylan Inc and Natco Pharma Ltd. The appeals court upheld some of nine patents involved in the drug, or portions thereof, but declared several invalid, meaning patent protections were set to expire in May 2014 instead of September 2015. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller)

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