Judge blocks Amphastar's Lovenox copy

It looks as if Momenta Pharmaceuticals ($MNTA) will keep its share of the market for copycat Lovenox. The U.S.-based drugmaker and its partner Sandoz won an injunction against two potential rivals late Friday in a ruling that will stave off their versions until a patent suit is resolved.

The court order thwarts Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, which recently won FDA approval for its version, and Watson Pharmaceuticals ($WPI), which had signed on to sell Amphastar's product. It's a bit of a twist in the companies' long-running race to market Lovenox copies. Momenta and Sandoz won FDA approval in July 2010, even though Amphastar had filed for approval first. As soon as Amphastar won the FDA nod, Momenta and Sandoz sued, saying their patent had been infringed.

That was in September. Now, thanks to Judge Nathaniel Gorton's ruling, Amphastar and licensee Watson have to fight the patent suit before taking their version to market. Watson says it's considering an appeal.

It's a big win for Momenta, which has made more than $200 million off its Lovenox copy so far. As the only generics makers with a version of Lovenox to sell, Momenta and Sandoz can hang onto their pricing power--and their 50% market share. As long as the court ruling stands, that is.

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