Wyeth pounces on Sandoz's copycat Protonix

Wyeth is going toe-to-toe with Novartis. The Protonix maker--and its partner, Nycomed--filed suit against Novartis' generics arm, saying its copycat drug violates the heartburn med's U.S. patent. Sandoz, you'll recall, filed last month for FDA approval of an injectable form of the drug.

It's just the latest twist in the rapidly lengthening story of copycat Protonix. Last year, Teva Pharmaceuticals launched its version, but stopped shipping to sit down with Wyeth at the negotiating table. No settlement of the companies' patent fight has yet been reached, but in the meantime, Wyeth teamed up with Prasco Laboratories to sell an authorized generic. Soon after, a division of India's Sun Pharmaceuticals released its own version.

Wyeth's sales--both branded and generic--dropped by 66 percent during the first quarter--a painful loss, considering the fact that Protonix once was the drugmaker's biggest seller. It's still defending its Protonix patent, though, and plans to ask for lost profits and damages from both Teva and Sun when the patent case goes to trial.

- see the Wall Street Journal story