Lilly loses UK patent challenge

A UK court has ruled that Allergan (formerly Actavis) is not infringing Eli Lilly’s patents on cancer chemotherapy drug Alimta (pemetrexed) by marketing an alternative salt form.

Lilly’s European patent on the drug molecule itself expired in December 2015, but the company also holds patents around a vitamin regimen to prevent side effects. The UK Court of Appeal had previously ruled that Allergan’s alternative form would infringe these patents if marketed with instructions to dilute it in saline before use (presumably because this would effectively generate Lilly’s patent-protected disodium salt in situ). However, Allergan now intends to market the drug with instructions to dilute it in dextrose solution, avoiding that issue.

In early 2015, an appeals court in Germany ruled that a generic version marketed as the dipotassium salt would not infringe Lilly’s patents.

Lilly is attempting to appeal both these decisions. In the US, a court has fully upheld Lilly’s vitamin regimen patent, and the central European Patent Office holds that the patent is valid, but it can still be challenged in individual EU member states.

Related Content

Lilly wins cancer drug patent dispute

7 April 2014 Business

news image

Alimta patent will last until 2022 after US court rules in Lilly’s favour

Merger fever sweeps pharma

10 September 2015 Business

news image

The life sciences sector has been gripped by a mergers and acquisition frenzy, and it looks set to continue. But what does it...

Most Commented

Electric choc treatment promises lower fat chocolate

22 June 2016 Research

news image

Problem of reduced fat chocolate gumming up factories’ pipelines overcome

Behind closed doors: How to win the Nobel prize

7 October 2015 Comments

news image

Bengt Norden addresses the myths and rumours surrounding the world's most prestigious science prize