UCB's Vimpat prevails in patent challenge--but IPR threat still lurks

It’s a great day for Belgium’s UCB pharma, thanks to a U.S. District Court patent ruling. In fact, it’s one of the company's best days in years.

Sunday, UCB announced that a Delaware District Court had rejected challenges to its patent on anti-seizure drug Vimpat--one of four key products for the Brussels-based drugmaker.

And investors cheered the news, sending UCB shares to the highest height they’ve reached since 2009.

With the decision, Vimpat’s IP shield is now safe through 2022--at least, for now--and UCB is expecting big things from the med before that time comes. The company’s expecting the med to rake in peak sales of more than €1.2 billion by 2020, it said in its annual report.

In 2015, it generated €679 million in annual sales, joining products Cimzia, Neupro and Keppra to combine for 77% of UCB’s global net sales.

UCB isn’t totally out of the woods, though. In late May, New York-based generics maker Argentum Pharmaceuticals won an inter partes review of Vimpat’s patent protection by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO)’s Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). And that decision may not be handed down until next May.

Still, court’s decision is a “long-awaited sentiment boost” for UCB, whose shares had fallen by about 17% so far this year, Citigroup analysts wrote in a Monday note seen by Bloomberg. Despite the lingering risk of patent invalidation, they wrote, “we expect market confidence to improve.”

- read UCB's release
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