Dutch approve Seroquel XR

In another step under the patent shelter for AstraZeneca's Seroquel, the company won approval from Dutch regulators for an extended release form of the drug, the company's second-biggest with $3.4 billion in 2006 sales. Good thing, too, because the patent on Seroquel without the "XR" has already been challenged by generics maker Teva Pharmaceuticals and by Novartis generics unit Sandoz.

Next, AstraZeneca will use the E.U.'s mutual recognition rules to introduce Seroquel XR across Europe. The antipsychotic, also used in treatment of bipolar disorder, was approved in the U.S. in May. Technically, the Seroquel patent expires in 2011, but the company has protection on the XR form until 2017. Once-a-day dosing is convenient for patients--and a convenient way for pharma companies to keep selling a branded med even after generic competition hits the market.

- read the report on Seroquel

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