Bayer loses Yasmin patent fight

Bayer had the Yasmin rug pulled out from under it yesterday.  A U.S. court voided the contraceptive's key patent, leading the German conglomerate to revise its 2008 profit expectations downward. Until now, Yasmin and related meds were Bayer's top sellers, just ahead of its MS treatment Betaseron.

The ruling opens the door for Barr Pharmaceuticals to sell a Yasmin copycat in the U.S. The product sold $487 million worth here last year; including other, sister meds such as the lower-dose version Yaz, the franchise is worth about €1 billion, or $1.5 billion. Bayer is mulling an appeal; regardless of the ruling, it holds exclusivity on the drug till 2009.

It's just the latest in a series of blows for Bayer, which last month saw its drug Nexavar fail a lung cancer trial. Last fall, the company suspended sales of its anti-bleeding med Trasylol because of side effects.

- see Barr's release
- read the report from Forbes
- check out the BusinessWeek coverage