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Healthcare

Sanofi to continue fight against generic Lovenox

* To continue suit on FDA approval of generic clot preventer

* Says injunction refusal did not comment on merit of suit

LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SASY.PA said it would continue a legal battle in the United States against a generic version of its blood clot preventer Lovenox, despite a court rebuff.

“The company’s case against the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) will continue to move forward, even without preliminary injunctive relief,” Sanofi said in a statement released on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Wednesday refused to issue a preliminary injunction after a request by Sanofi to block the generic version of Lovenox that is already being sold by Novartis's NOVN.VX Sandoz unit and Momenta MNTA.O.

The FDA approved the generic blood thinner in July despite concerns by Sanofi that the agency failed to follow its procedures or ensure the generic drug had the same active ingredient as Lovenox -- a complex injectable drug that Sanofi argues is hard to replicate accurately.

Judge Sullivan said in his decision that an injunction would serve the public interest only if Sanofi was likely to succeed in proving the FDA had exceeded its authority in granting Sandoz approval to sell the generic drug.

But Sanofi noted that the court had not ruled on the merits its suit against the FDA.

Lovenox was Sanofi’s second-biggest drug worldwide last year with sales of some $4 billion, 60 percent of which was in the United States.

It is one of a number of key drugs facing generic competition -- one factor behind the drive by Sanofi Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher to find new sources of growth via acquisitions, including a potential deal for Genzyme GENZ.O.

Viehbacher sent a takeover proposal valuing Genzyme at about $18.4 billion to Genzyme on Aug. 3 but the two sides are still far apart on price, according to sources familiar with the situation. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Karen Foster)

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