December 14, 2007 / 7:38 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Barr files patent suit against Watson, Sandoz

(Adds Watson, Barr comments, background; previous CHICAGO)

NEW YORK, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc BRL.N said on Friday its Duramed Pharmaceuticals unit filed patent infringement lawsuits against Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc WPI.N and Novartis’ NOVN.VX Sandoz unit over one of its oral contraceptives.

The claims involve generic versions of Barr’s Seasonale extended-cycle oral contraceptive product.

The lawsuit, seeking an injunction halting sales of generic Seasonale, was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. It claims that Watson’s product infringes Barr’s patent.

Watson began selling its generic version of Seasonale under the Quasense brand name in September of 2006.

Novartis’ generic unit, Sandoz, last month filed an application with U.S. health regulators seeking to sell its version of Seasonale, asserting that Barr’s patent was invalid, unenforceable or would not be infringed by Sandoz’s product.

“We believe that Watson’s product should be removed from the market, and that the company is due monetary compensation from Watson,” Barr Chief Executive Bruce Downey said in a statement.

“In addition, we intend to protect our intellectual property from potential generic competition by Sandoz while our patent is in force,” Downey added.

Watson confirmed that the suit had been filed against it.

“We fully intend to continue to market Quasense, our generic version of Seasonale, and will defend this case vigorously,” Watson Chief Executive Paul Bisaro said in a statement.

Barr’s Downey said his company would pursue all means to enforce the patent covering Seasonale, which was reissued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in September. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot with additional reporting by Debra Sherman in Chicago, editing by Richard Chang)

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