Pfizer, Teva settle long-running Neurontin fight

Bring the gavel down in the patent fight over Neurontin. Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries have settled their long-running court battle, ending a trial that had been under way in New Jersey federal court. The financial terms aren't public, but the essence is. The generics giant will be able to continue selling its copycat version of the epilepsy pill under a license from Pfizer.

Teva's Ivax unit has been selling that copy since 2004. But Pfizer had argued the generic infringed a Neurontin patent that doesn't expire until 2017. The biggest of Big Pharma sued for the profits it lost when Neurontin sales plummeted to $150 million in 2005 from $2.5 billion the previous year--thanks to that generic competition.

Back in 2007, a federal appeals court overturned a judge's ruling that Teva and Ivax did not step on Pfizer's patent. That appeals court decision paved the way for this month's trial. Pfizer wanted to be repaid for those lost profits, while Teva was fighting back with claims that Pfizer's strong Neurontin sales came on the back of illegal off-label promotions.

Now, however, the New Jersey federal court has dismissed the case as a result of the settlement. Although the financial terms weren't announced, Globes news service reports that Teva will pay less than $100 million to wrap up the suit.

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