AZ hit with Crestor patent challenge

It's a one-two punch for AstraZeneca today. A Canadian drug maker is challenging AZ's patent on the cholesterol drug Crestor, one of its top sellers at $2 billion--and a linchpin of its profits over the next few years. Meanwhile, the company reported a 15 percent drop in profits because of restructuring and acquisition costs--and increasing generic competition for its products.

Cobalt Pharmaceuticals says it plans to sell a copycat version of Crestor before its patents begin to expire in 2016. AZ has 45 days to protest, and if it does, the FDA can't approve the new version for at least 30 months.

AstraZeneca also faces patent challenges on Nexium, its top-selling acid-reflux drug, and Seroquel, a schizophrenia and depression remedy. And European regulators snatched away patent protection for Symbicort, a successful asthma treatment, in September, opening the way for generic competition by 2010.

- see AstraZeneca's response to Cobalt
- check out the earnings release from AZ
- read the Crestor report from Guardian Unlimited
- read the CNBC article on third-quarter results

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AstraZeneca lays out road map for recovery. Report
AstraZeneca announces restructuring and buyout. Report