AZ settles another Seroquel patent suit, defends Crestor

Two big questions about AstraZeneca's ($AZN) intellectual property today: Has the domino effect from AstraZeneca's Seroquel XR patent settlement begun? And will AstraZeneca persuade an appeals court to confirm a ruling in favor of Crestor's patent protection?

The company wrapped up its patent fight with would-be Seroquel XR copycat Handa last week with a settlement giving the generics maker the right to sell its version in late 2016. Given that multiple generics makers want to knock off Seroquel XR--and Handa's copy of the drug was least likely to step on AZ's patents--analysts saw the settlement as a portent of more.

And now, there's another. Accord Pharmaceuticals backed off its patent challenge, and, like Handa, said it "does not dispute that the patent asserted by AstraZeneca in the U.S. patent litigation is valid and enforceable," AstraZeneca announced. And like Handa, Accord got a license to sell its version in 2016.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca was in court today defending its Crestor patent, which was upheld by a trial court last year. The appeals court hearing is expected to last the day with a ruling following in three to 6 months, Reuters reports. Jefferies analysts give AstraZeneca a 75% chance of winning. Good thing, too, because the company gets $2.6 billion in U.S. sales from Crestor, and it would like to keep getting that revenue. If the patent is affirmed, AstraZeneca's chief worry will be competition from cheap generic versions of Lipitor.

- see the release from AZ
- get more from Reuters