NEW YORK, Sept 13 A federal U.S. judge issued a
temporary injunction against Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co Ltd
on Friday, preventing the South Korean drugmaker
from launching a close relative of AstraZeneca Plc's
Nexium stomach-acid drug in the United States.
Judge Timothy Dyk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Federal Circuit approved AstraZeneca's request for the
injunction on Friday. He ordered Hanmi to respond within a week
and AstraZeneca to reply no later than September 24.
AstraZeneca has accused its South Korean rival of patent
infringement for developing Esomezol, a drug that treats
gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is caused by stomach acid
moving up into the esophagus.
In August, Hanmi received tentative approval from the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration for Esomezol, which was developed
based on Nexium.
Hanmi's potential encroachment poses a threat to
AstraZeneca, which is facing the near-term expiration of U.S.
patents covering its two top-selling drugs - Nexium, which loses
U.S. protection in 2014, and the cholesterol pill Crestor, which
will go off-patent in 2016. As a result, sales at the company
are set to fall by several billion dollars.