US court reverses ruling for Forest in Caraco suit

WASHINGTON, April 1 (Reuters) - A federal appeals court reversed on Tuesday a ruling favoring Forest Laboratories Inc FRX.N in a patent dispute with generic drugmaker Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories CPD.A over the blockbuster antidepressant drug Lexapro.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded the case back to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, which had dismissed Caraco’s request for a declaratory judgment of noninfringement.

The appeals court said there was no record the lower court considered two cases establishing the legal precedents to be taken into account in such a patent dispute.

Officials at neither company could be reached for comment.

In September, the same appeals court upheld the validity of a Lexapro patent and affirmed a decision by a federal court in Delaware that blocked generic forms Lexapro made by Teva Pharmaceutical TEVA.O and Cipla Ltd CIPL.BO.

Lexapro’s first patent is expected to expire in 2012.

Forest had Lexapro sales of about $2.5 billion in the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, according to the research firm IMS Health.

The opinion issued Tuesday can be found on the Web at: here (Reporting by Kim Dixon; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)