Court overturns two patents for Cephalon painkiller

Cephalon ($CEPH) is weighing its options after a federal court overturned two patents related to the painkiller Fentora.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruled on two of three patents in the case involving Frazer, PA-based Cephalon and Watson Pharmaceuticals, according to the companies. Cephalon said Friday it is reviewing the decision and is weighing its options, including an appeal. Patents on Fentora are due to expire in 2019, according to the FDA's Orange Book.

The decision might open the door to Watson and other generic drug makers to start marketing copycat versions of Fentora. Watson obtained FDA approval of a generic version of the painkiller in January. Cephalon previously made an agreement with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries through which the generics giant would hold off from marketing its version of the treatment until 2018. But that deal gives Teva the green light to start sales if another competitor begins selling a generic version.

Louise Chen, an analyst for Collins Stewart, tells the AP that Cephalon might decide to increase the price of Fentora and then start sales of its own generic version of the drug. Cephalon would be protecting a product that brought $181.6 million in worldwide sales in 2010, or about 6 percent of the company's total annual revenue.

- here's Cephalon's release
- read the AP story