AstraZeneca waits for possible launch of generic versions of its big-selling drugs

4/7/2008

WASHINGTON AstraZeneca is waiting to see if generic companies Teva Pharmaceutical and Ranbaxy Labs, will begin selling generic versions of its drugs Nexium and Seroguel based on the expiration of a temporary ban against the companies.

According to published reports, AstraZeneca has been trying to protect its patents for Nexium (heartburn) and Seroquel (schizophrenia), by suing the two generic companies for allegedly violating AstraZeneca’s drug patents. The patents on Seroquel and Nexium patents do not expire until 2011 and 2014, respectively, and the company had won a 30-month ban—implemented by the Food and Drug Administration..

Since the lawsuits are still pending, however, there has been uncertainty on whether Teva and Ranbaxy will decide to market the pills now, as Ranbaxy will be able to sell the generic version of Nexium in the U.S. on April 14, and Teva’s ban on selling the generic version of Seroquil expired on March 26.

There has been no statement from either company on what their decision will be. The downside for them is that should they decide to sell the generic versions, they would likely have to pay AstraZeneca in damages if they are eventually found guilty. The hearing is set to start on August 11.

AstraZeneca has seen its stock fall by 23 percent over the past year.

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