A U.K court has ruled that a drug manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Bayer to treat wet age-related macular degeneration breaches a European patent owned by Genentech, according Bloomberg in a wire report published online yesterday afternoon.
According to the Bloomberg article, Tarrytown, New York-based Regeneron and Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer had wanted the court not only to abolish San Francisco, California-based Genentech’s patent for addressing macular degeneration – an eye condition that can lead to blindness – but also to validate their VEGF Trap-Eye treatment. As it turns out, however, the judge wasn’t buying their argument.
Judge Christopher Floyd denied the request yesterday and stated in his written judgement that VEGF Trap-Eye, which also goes by the name of Eylea, infringes upon Genentech’s European patent. Genentech, an unlisted company, is a subsidiary Roche Holding, the Basel, Switzerland-based pharmaceuticals and diagnostics holding organization.
According to the Bloomberg article, Bayer recently informed analysts that Eylea, which is being marketed in the United States by Regeneron and in various international markets by Bayer, has the potential to ultimately achieve sales of around USD 1bn. This would qualify as blockbuster territory in a niche that provides drugs to treat macular degeneration, an adverse condition that is a primary cause of blindness in the aged. It occurs when aberrant blood vessel growth occurs behind the retina.
Meanwhile, Bayer Spokesperson Doreen Schroeder tried to put a positive spin the disappointing legal setback. She was quoted as saying in the Bloomberg article that the judge’s decision is applicable only in the U.K. and that the disputed patent is slated to expire come October. While apparently trying to minimize the extent of the legal decision, she said in an email response sent to Bloomberg that Bayer disagrees with the U.K. judge’s finding and that the company will pursue legal measures to appeal the ruling.
According to the article, Regeneron announced early this year that it anticipates that Eylea sales will come in at between USD 140m and USD 160m this year. Regeneron Spokesperson Peter Dworkin explained in the Bloomberg article that the U.K. judge’s ruling will have zero impact on Elyea’s commercial supply and prospects in the U.S.
The Bloomberg article didn’t include any comments from either Genentech or its parent company, Roche.
The original article can be seen at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-22/bayer-regeneron-lose-u-k-patent-fight-on-blockbuster-eye-drug.html