Patent for Lilly's cancer drug Gemzar invalidated

A Michigan federal court ruled in favor of Sun Pharmaceuticals, invalidating Eli Lilly's method of use patent for its cancer drug Gemzar, which is not set to expire until 2013. Lilly still holds the compound patent for the drug, an injectible chemotherapy treatment for lung, breast, pancreatic and ovarian cancer that brought in $1.7 billion in worldwide sales in 2008. The pharma giant's shares fell 1.4 percent in premarket trading.

With the launch of Actavis' copycat in March, Lilly is already facing competition in Europe. The drugmaker saw worldwide Gemzar sales fall 17 percent to $721 million in H1 2009. In its statement, Lilly reassured investors that the court's decision does not make way for generic competition in the U.S. just yet: "Today's court decision does not allow for the immediate entry of generic gemcitabine in the U.S. market," Lilly's General Counsel said in a statement. "Gemzar's compound patent remains in force through 2010." The drugmaker, of course, said it plans to appeal the ruling. 

- here's the Eli Lilly release
- and the Bloomberg report
- more from Forbes