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UPDATE 1-U.S. court upholds patent on Gemzar cancer drug

NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) - An Indiana federal court upheld the main patent on Eli Lilly and Co's LLY.N Gemzar cancer drug, protecting the blockbuster product's U.S. marketing exclusivity through Nov. 15, the company said on Thursday.

Industry analysts have predicted the drug, which had global sales of $1.36 billion in 2009, will face generic competition in the important U.S. market by November, when its main patent lapses. The medicine is used to treat ovarian, lung, breast and pancreatic cancer.

Lilly said the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana had upheld the company’s so-called compound patent on Gemzar, which covers its chemical formulation.

But the Indianapolis drugmaker said the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan had ruled in a separate case that a second patent, which could have expanded Gemzar’s marketing exclusivity until 2013, was invalid.

That patent covers the method by which Gemzar is administered. The drug is given slowly through an intravenous infusion.

Lilly said it was appealing the Michigan ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which it expects to hear the case on May 7.

Shares of Lilly were up 9 cents at $36.31 in morning New York Stock Exchange trading. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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