Jan 30 French drugmaker Sanofi sued
Eli Lilly and Co on Thursday, alleging that the U.S.
pharmaceutical company infringed patents on its top-selling
diabetes treatment, the insulin product Lantus.
The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the
District of Delaware, was triggered by notification from Lilly
last month that it applied with the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) seeking permission to sell a generic
version of Lantus, known chemically as insulin glargine.
Lilly, in its submission, challenged the validity of several
patents on Lantus held by Sanofi.
Lantus is the world's most prescribed insulin product, with
annual worldwide sales of about $7 billion.
Indianapolis-based Lilly had said it will not launch its
generic product before the February 2015 expiration of Sanofi's
patent on the active ingredient in Lantus.
But the patent infringement lawsuit triggers an automatic
30-month stay of a generic approval by the FDA, which would keep
Lilly's generic off the market until mid-2016.
Sanford Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson, in a recent research
note, said a 30-month delay would raise Sanofi's earnings per
share from 2015 through 2020 by about 6 percent and lower
Lilly's EPS for the period by about 2 percent.
A delay in the launch of a generic by Eli Lilly would also
give Sanofi more time to switch patients to a new long-acting
follow-up product known as U300 once it gains approval before
cheap competition for Lantus hits the market.