Lilly wins cancer drug patent dispute


Eli Lilly stands to gain billions of dollars in revenue from sales of chemotherapy drug Alimta in the US, after it won a legal battle to uphold a patent covering the drug’s use in combination with B vitamins.

When used alone, Alimta (pemetrexed) can have severe, potentially fatal side effects. Trials carried out by Lilly established that combining Alimta with folic acid and vitamin B12 reduced these effects. The compound patent is due to expire in 2017, but an additional patent covering the use of the drug with the vitamin supplements will last until 2022. Israel-based firm Teva Pharmaceutical Industries disputed the validity of this patent, saying that adding supplements to the drug was a logical approach to reducing side effects. But the court ruled in Lilly’s favour, concluding that the company had put significant resources into developing the treatment regimen.

The win could mean around $500 million (£302 million) extra in sales per year after 2017 for Lilly, making up for some losses after the patent on its best-selling drug – antidepressant Cymbalta – expired in December last year. In a bid to protect Alimta sales overseas, Lilly is also currently involved in similar court cases in the UK, Germany and with the EU Patent Office.


Related Content

Lilly freezes pay as patent cliff looms

24 July 2013 Business

news image

Drugmaker targets $400 million savings as two key patents near expiry

Business roundup

29 November 2010 Business

news image

Industry news, December 2010

Most Read

Breakup reaction hints at handedness of nature

25 September 2014 Research

news image

Dissociation of 3-bromocamphor provides clues on why nature favours one mirror image of a molecule over another

Perovskite solar cells show hydrogen production promise

26 September 2014 Research

news image

Highly efficient solar cells and catalysts made from cheap, common materials use sunlight to split water

Most Commented

Viruses melt ‘glassy’ DNA

1 October 2014 Research

news image

Researchers have shown how viruses liquefy their own DNA ready to inject into host cells

Perovskite solar cells show hydrogen production promise

26 September 2014 Research

news image

Highly efficient solar cells and catalysts made from cheap, common materials use sunlight to split water