Janssen drops U.S. lawsuit against Samsung Bioepis' Remicade copy

SEOUL (Reuters) - A unit of healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson has dropped a lawsuit it filed to block a copy of its rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade produced by South Korea’s Samsung Bioepis Co Ltd from being sold in the United States.

Janssen Biotech Inc, in a document to the U.S. District Court of New Jersey dated Friday and seen by Reuters, voluntarily dismissed its suit to block Samsung Bioepis’ biosimilar of Remicade from sale.

Remicade is Johnson & Johnson’s biggest selling drug, with U.S. sales of about $5 billion a year.

Janssen had filed the suit in May to investigate whether the South Korean firm violated its manufacturing process patents.

The dismissal was “with prejudice,” meaning Janssen is barred from bringing a new case against Samsung Bioepis on the same basis.

A Janssen spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

“Janssen’s withdrawal of the lawsuit marks a positive step towards improving patient access to biosimilars in the United States,” Samsung Bioepis spokesman Mingi Hyun said on Tuesday.

Merck & Co and Samsung Bioepis, part of South Korea’s top conglomerate Samsung Group, launched in July their less expensive alternative version of Remicade, which is marketed as Renflexis in the United States.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong