Pfizer turns back Mylan's patent challenge to Sutent

Pfizer execs can sigh with relief now that a federal court has backed the company's patents on kidney cancer drug Sutent. The med has become increasingly important to Pfizer ($PFE) as sales of off-patent drugs have faded, and so it was alarming to the U.S. drugmaker when generics maker Mylan ($MYL) challenged the patent in 2010 and filed to make its own copy.

Pfizer trumpeted the decision Thursday saying that after a four-day trial, a U.S District Court in Delaware agreed Mylan had infringed patents. It pointed out that Mylan could appeal the decision. Pfizer believed most patents on the drug were solid until 2021 until Mylan challenged three patents on the drug more than four years ago "on various grounds," Pfizer said at the time. Pfizer filed suit in response.

The blockbuster had $1.2 billion in sales last year, down about 3%. They have been off another 6% in the first half of this year but it is still a key drug for the U.S. company. But Pfizer has had its ups and downs with Sutent. The drug, which also has proven effective for gastrointestinal stromal tumors and a rare type of pancreatic cancer, missed in trials for other indications, such as prostate cancer and lung cancer, that would have expanded its sales.

The company has also had to fight for its IP in India, where courts and regulators have gone back and forth over whether its patent is valid or not.

- here's the release

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