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Healthcare

UPDATE 1-Court affirms Amgen EPO patents, blocks Roche drug

(Adds background, Roche comment, analyst comment)

NEW YORK, Oct 2 (Reuters) - A U.S. court on Thursday affirmed a jury verdict upholding Amgen Inc AMGN.O patents on its blockbuster anemia drugs, effectively blocking Roche Holding AG ROG.VX from selling a rival drug in the United States, Amgen said.

The U.S. District Court in Boston ruled that Amgen is entitled to a permanent injunction prohibiting Roche from selling Mircera, its erythropoietin product that would have competed directly with Amgen’s Epogen.

Amgen had sought the permanent injunction after its win last October of a patent infringement case filed against Roche.

“Today’s permanent injunction was widely expected ... However, we note that Mircera was approved by the EMEA (European regulators) in July 2007 and Roche is free to market the drug in Europe,” Morgan Stanley analyst William Ho said in a research note.

Previously, the Boston court imposed a preliminary injunction preventing Roche from selling its drug in the United States and Roche has appealed that ruling.

Roche said in a statement that is assessing how this opinion impacts the current appeal.

“Failure to enter a permanent injunction ... would risk undermining the incentives for innovation that have produced, and hopefully will continue to produce, medical advances that extend and enhance the value of life,” the court wrote in its ruling. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot and Deena Beasley; editing by Carol Bishopric, Gary Hill)

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