* U.S. judge upholds Merck's Singulair patent
* Rules Teva's generic version infringes Merck patent
(Updates with Merck, Teva comment, details)
By Ransdell Pierson
NEW YORK, Aug 19 A U.S. federal judge upheld
the validity of a patent on Merck & Co Inc's (MRK.N) asthma and
allergy drug Singulair on Wednesday, dealing a blow to Teva
Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (TEVA.TA) TEVA.O, which wanted
to introduce a generic copy.
Merck's shares rose 2.18 percent to $31.38, while Teva's
shares rose 0.7 percent to $51.14.
The court found that Teva infringed Merck's patent and
ordered that a permanent injunction be issued to restrain Teva
from manufacturing or selling a generic version of Singulair --
Merck's biggest product -- until the patent expires in 2012.
Teva challenged the validity of patent '473 during a trial
in February before Judge Garrett Brown in Newark federal court
in New Jersey.
Had Teva prevailed, its generic version would have blown a
hole in Singulair's annual U.S. sales of about $3 billion.
The ruling also resolves a second lawsuit filed by Merck
against Teva in January, said Merck spokesman Ronald Rogers.
That lawsuit related to Teva's application to sell an oral
granule formulation that can be dissolved in baby formula,
breast milk, applesauce or ice-cream for children, he said.
Teva is reviewing the court's decision to determine its
next course of action, the company said in a statement.
Singulair had world-wide sales of $4.3 billion in 2008,
including both formulations of the drug.
Teva applied for U.S. approval for a generic version of
Singulair in 2007. Merck responded by suing Teva for patent
infringement, which barred the FDA from approving a generic for
30 months, or until a court decision.
(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson in New York and Toni Clarke in
Boston, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Robert MacMillan)