AstraZeneca Wins Lawsuit Against Generic Drugmaker

NEW YORK (AP) -- AstraZeneca Plc said Tuesday it won a patent challenge brought against its blockbuster cholesterol drug Crestor by generic drug developers.

The U.S. District Court in Delaware ruled that a key patent on the company's third best-selling drug is valid and that challenger Apotex could be held liable for patent infringement. Other companies involved in the consolidated lawsuit include Mylan Inc., Par Pharmaceutical, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Crestor is a key moneymaker for AstraZenca, with sales of $4.5 billion in 2009. The patent is set to expire in 2016 and generic competition earlier would have severely cut into sales.

"AstraZeneca is pleased with the court's decision upholding the validity of the '314 substance patent," said AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan in a statement. "The court's decision reaffirms the strength of the intellectual property protecting Crestor."

Bernstein Research analyst Dr. Tim Anderson said the investment community had expected AstraZeneca to prevail.

"But, given how devastating a loss would/could have been, actually securing a favorable ruling removes an overhang," he wrote in a note to investors.

Shares of AstraZeneca jumped $4.02, or 9 percent, to close at $48.74. The stock has ranged from $40.30 to $50.70 over the past year.

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