Sanofi-Aventis is in court defending its blockbuster cancer drug Taxotere against generic competition. The company sued generics makers Hospira and Apotex of infringing its patents on the drug, which are set to expire in 2012. "They want to copy our product," lawyer George F. Pappas said in court (as quoted by Bloomberg).
For their part, Hospira and Apotex argue that Sanofi's patents aren't valid. They allege the technology isn't new, and they claim the "obviousness" defense; in other words, they say Taxotere's formulations would be obvious to a pharma chemist. Plus, Hospira says its version of Taxotere is superior to Sanofi's. "Ours is a better formulation," the company's lawyer said. "It's an improved product."
Given that cancer meds are among the fastest-growing products in pharma, there's a lot at stake for Sanofi. Taxotere racked up $870 million in second-quarter sales. Facing generic competition would slash that number painfully.
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