Watson, Amphastar launch Lovenox copy on court ruling

Momenta Pharmaceuticals ($MNTA) has lost its exclusive hold on the generic Lovenox market--at least temporarily. Amphastar, which has been developing its own version of the Sanofi ($SNY) clot-fighter, persuaded a federal appeals court to stay an injunction against its launch. That means Amphastar and its distribution partner, Watson Pharmaceuticals ($WPI), can sell their drug until and unless the appeal doesn't go its way.

Momenta and its partner, the Novartis ($NVS) generics unit Sandoz, have been marketing their Lovenox copy for months. They've been fighting Amphastar in a patent dispute since Momenta sued last September for infringement. At the end of October, Momenta and Sandoz won an injunction against Amphastar's version. And that's the injunction the appeals court has decided to stay.

So, says Watson in a statement, the two companies will now launch their enoxaparin sodium product "immediately." They have FDA approval for 8 strengths of the drug, and Watson has exclusive rights to distribute the products to U.S. pharmacies.

Momenta's stock dropped by as much as a quarter on the news, but it and Sandoz aren't the only ones that stand to suffer from Watson and Amphastar's launch. Sanofi has benefited from limited competition for its branded version. If the two copycat makers start cutting prices to grab market share, the generics are likely to cut more deeply into the French drugmaker's sales.

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