MedImmune can't pursue antitrust claims, judge says

Gaithersburg company suing to invalidate patent

December 27, 2003|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

LOS ANGELES - MedImmune Inc. can't pursue antitrust claims in its suit to invalidate a patent controlled by Genentech Inc., the second-largest biotechnology company, for the method to create drugs using antibody molecules to fight diseases.

Genentech and Britain's Celltech Group reached a confidential agreement in 2001 to end a dispute over whose scientists first created the method of manufacturing combined human and nonhuman genes. MedImmune sued this year, claiming that the companies are wrongly using the agreement to demand royalties from competitors.

U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer in Los Angeles ruled yesterdaythat there was no antitrust violation because a U.S. judge approved the agreement, and the patent that's the subject of the dispute was issued under rules set by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. MedImmune's other claims remain, including its request for a ruling that its Synagis children's drug isn't in violation of the patent.

Gaithersburg-based MedImmune's Synagis treats infant lung infections. The drug, which became available in the United States in 1998, had sales of $516 million last year.

Genentech, based in South San Francisco, trails only Amgen Inc., the world's biggest biotechnology company, in sales and market value.

After the settlement of the dispute in 2001, Celltech, Britain's largest biotechnology drug maker, assigned its patent to Genentech and City of Hope National Medical Center.

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