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

Bubble wrap could send lab costs packing

23 July 2014 Research

news image

Potential bubbles up across wide range of uses as storage and test vessels, especially for poor countries

Takeover battle pushes Allergan to cut R&D jobs

28 July 2014 Business

news image

Besieged by serially acquisitive Valeant, the Botox maker will lay off 1500 staff to propel earnings growth

Most Commented

Bubble wrap could send lab costs packing

23 July 2014 Research

news image

Potential bubbles up across wide range of uses as storage and test vessels, especially for poor countries

Relativity behind mercury's liquidity

21 June 2013 Research

news image

First evidence that relativistic effects are indeed responsible for mercury's low melting point