Abbott suit intensifies fight with J&J

The tug of war between Abbott Laboratories and Johnson & Johnson is escalating. Abbott is suing J&J over yet another autoimmune drug, Stelara, claiming that it's made using Abbott's proprietary technology, Bloomberg reports. It's just the latest in a long-running legal tussle over autoimmune drugs, with J&J accusing Abbott of copycatting vice-versa.

You'll recall that in June a federal jury in Marshall, Texas--capital of patent litigation--awarded J&J $1.67 billion, saying that Abbott's Humira infringed on J&J patents. Abbott is fighting that verdict, and raised the stakes further by suing J&J over its new Simponi arthritis treatment.

And now the Stelara claim. At issue are antibodies that bind the immune-system regulator interleukin-12. J&J developed its version of those antibodies--ustekinumab--after Abbott came up with its ABT-874, which is now in clinical trials, Abbott claims in the lawsuit. J&J says it made its version first, the lawsuit alleges, and tried to keep the U.S. Patent Office from granting Abbott protection for its technology.

"[The J&J unit] Centocor now seeks to benefit from Abbott's patented technology through the manufacture, use and sale of its later-developed anti-IL-12 antibody, ustekinumab, marketed under the trade name Stelara," Abbott said in the complaint. Stelara is currently awaiting FDA approval, which could come as soon as August 26. It's already on sale in Canada and Europe. 

- read the Bloomberg article
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