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Seroquel XR patent upheld, protecting AZ blockbuster

With basic version falling to generics, AZ has been fighting for XR
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AstraZeneca's Seroquel XR is one of the key drugs the company banks on.--Courtesy of AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca's ($AZN) new CEO Pascal Soriot had to start the year giving shareholders tough news about the U.K. company. Sales and earnings are fading, and that path seems set for a while. So it was particularly good news today when a federal appeals court upheld the patent for antipsychotic Seroquel XR, one of the key drugs the company continues to bank on.

The company pointed out the ruling only applies to the U.S. market. It held off generics planned by Mylan ($MYL), Osmotica Pharmaceutical and Torrent Pharmaceuticals, Reuters reported. With generics already undermining sales of its basic Seroquel IR, the company has been fighting vigorously to hold off generic competition for the extended release version.

When the company reported 2012 earnings last month, it said that sales in the U.S. were down a whopping 23%, mainly because of generic competition for Seroquel IR. The extended release version, however, remained firmly in blockbuster company, having sold about $1.5 billion worldwide, up 4% from the year before.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot--Courtesy of AstraZeneca

A federal court in March first upheld the formulation patent for Seroquel XR, which expires in 2017. That court also ruled that the patent has been infringed by Anchen Pharmaceuticals, Osmotica Pharmaceutical, Torrent Pharmaceuticals and Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

Soriot, who was brought in last year from Roche ($RHHBY), has laid out 5 growth platforms for the company: Its blood thinner Brilinta/Brilique, diabetes drugs, respiratory meds, emerging markets and Japan. He has already shaken up top management and the company has done a number of smaller deals to bolster its pipeline. The revenue from Seroquel XR will provide some buffer while he implements his plans. 

- read the Reuters story

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