Forest pins new hopes on Bystolic with rights buyout

Forest Laboratories ($FRX) has bought full rights to a blood-pressure drug co-marketed with Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ). In a move to refill its top line now that the flagship antidepressant, Lexapro, faces generic rivals, Forest paid $357 million for U.S. and Canadian intellectual property covering Bystolic. That means it won't have to pay royalties to J&J's Janssen unit any longer--and can keep all the drug's revenue for itself.

"We are pleased with the success of Bystolic," Forest chief Howard Solomon said in a release, adding, "Though it is the only branded beta-blocker in the U.S. market, Bystolic now represents over 4% of this very large class, and it continues to grow."

The drug delivered $90.6 million in revenue for Forest's fiscal third quarter, a year-over-year increase of 33% and a slight uptick from the second quarter's $82.3 million. At the end of its last fiscal year, Forest predicted 2012 sales growth for the drug of 35%, from 2011's $264.3 million. That would be $356.8 million.

That $100 million-odd increase could fill about one-third of the hole Forest expects from generic Lexapro competition this year: It has forecast $2 billion for the antidepressant, down from $2.3 billion in 2011. The company has already had to sue to protect Bystolic: It and Janssen filed last month for patent infringement against several prospective generics makers.

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