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Healthcare

UPDATE 2-Sanofi settles with Sandoz, Teva on Eloxatin patent

* Generic drug makers to stop selling their versions in June

* Generics companies to launch licensed version in 2012

* Agreement requires U.S. Federal Trade Commission approval

* Sanofi shares up 0.9 pct, outperform health index .SXDP

(Adds analyst, shares, details)

PARIS, April 1 (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SASY.PA has settled a patent law suit over cancer drug Eloxatin, putting a block on several other drugmakers selling their generic versions from late June until August 2012.

The agreement, announced on Thursday, partially resolved litigation with Teva Pharmaceuticals TEVA.TA, Fresenius Kabi APCVZ.O and Novartis' NOVN.VX Sandoz unit after they launched a cheaper copy last year that eroded sales of Eloxatin.

Sanofi-Aventis said in a statement the generic companies would launch in 2012 an officially licensed version of injectable Eloxatin, whose generic name is oxaliplatin.

The rest of the settlement provisions are confidential, Sanofi said. The deal requires approval of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Analysts said a delay to the Eloxatin generic was only a short-term positive development for Sanofi, which is diversifying its business to deal with a number of patent expiries and the subsequent appearance of cheaper copies.

“The settlement is interesting and a little unusual,” Ambrian analyst Mike Ward said.

“Eloxatin has become a very small product within a large business. It would have helped if they had done a deal before generics decimated the franchise,” he added.

He also said the settlement was limited to the world's three major generic drugmakers, meaning smaller rivals could continue to sell copies. Sun Pharmaceutical Industries SUN.BO also launched an Eloxatin copy last year.

Eloxatin sales in the fourth quarter of last year represented 1.1 percent of Sanofi’s total pharma sales, with U.S. sales of the product down 97.4 percent at 7 million euros.

For the full year Eloxatin sales fell more than a third at constant exchange rates to 957 million euros.

Sanofi shares rose as much as 1.2 percent and were up 0.74 percent at 55.59 euros by 0731 GMT, outperforming the Health index's .SXDP 0.3 percent climb.

Generic drugmakers launched a cheaper copy of Eloxatin in the United States earlier than expected last year.

The launch of an injectable generic was expected after the U.S. District Court of New Jersey ruled last June that generic drugmakers who challenged the Eloxatin patent did not infringe Sanofi’s patents.

Sanofi signed the settlement with Debiopharm, the original maker of Eloxatin. ($1=.7448 Euro) (Reporting by Caroline Jacobs; Editing by Hans Peters and David Cowell)

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