Sanofi prevails over Sun's generic Eloxatin

Sanofi-Aventis has reason to cheer a U.S. court decision today: A judge has banned Sun Pharmaceuticals from selling generic versions of its cancer drug Eloxatin until mid-2012. The ruling makes Sun the seventh generics maker to stop peddling Eloxatin copycats by late June.

The drug giant earlier this month settled a passel of patent suits with generics makers that had been marketing Eloxatin since August 2009, when a U.S. court ruled that generic versions didn't infringe Sanofi's patents. Under the settlements, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Fresenius Kabi Oncology, Novartis' generics unit Sandoz, Hospira's Mayne Pharma, Par Pharmaceutical, and Actavis will be able to hawk their versions of the drug from August 2012, under license from Sanofi.

Now, Sun apparently will have the same opportunity: The court said Sun must stop selling generic Eloxatin by late June, and it may start selling it again in mid-2012.

The ban should help Eloxatin sales, which dropped by 35 percent last year as generic competition hit the market. The question is, how much? Some industry observers have posited that, while generic versions are still for sale, folks will stock up on them, leaving Sanofi's branded drug cooling its heels until inventories deplete.

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