AstraZeneca zaps another Crestor generic threat with Actavis settlement

AstraZeneca ($AZN) has wrapped up another Crestor patent fight. Two generics makers, Actavis ($ACT) and Egis, admitted that the cholesterol drug's patent is valid. And in return, AstraZeneca agreed to share the market in May 2016, 67 days before its pediatric exclusivity expires.

Crestor is one of AstraZeneca's key products, with $6.25 billion in 2012 sales. With its latest restructuring just kicking off, the company needs to hang onto that revenue as long as possible. Naturally, it has been fighting hard to keep its exclusive hold on the market. In December, the company wrapped up patent litigation with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA), Mylan, Aurobindo, Sun Pharma and Par Pharmaceutical.

Actavis' Watson Pharmaceuticals unit and its partner Egis Pharmaceuticals were the remaining holdouts. They were working on an alternative formula, rosuvastatin zinc, to sidestep the patent problem. But as Actavis said in a statement, the version wouldn't be readily substitutable for Crestor--rosuvastatin calcium--and so the company would have had to woo patients away from the brand.

Still, that posed a threat to Crestor sales. Under the settlement deal, Watson can sell a Crestor generic beginning May 2, 2016. It has to pay AstraZeneca 39% of net sales on the drug till pediatric exclusivity expires July 8 of that year.

News of the deal comes as Actavis--formerly Watson Laboratories--appears at the Supreme Court in relation to another patent fight settled with a brand-name drugmaker. The Federal Trade Commission argues that certain patent settlements delay generics and are anticompetitive.

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