Eli Lilly scores a multibillion-dollar win in Alimta's EU patent fight

Courtesy of Eli Lilly

By Emily Wasserman and Tracy Staton

Eli Lilly ($LLY) scored a lucrative victory in its patent battle for lung cancer blockbuster Alimta in Europe, as the Court of Appeal in London ruled against Actavis' plan to market copycat versions of the med.

Lilly had lost a lower-court fight over the Alimta patent, so the new ruling gives the drugmaker and its big-selling med a welcome reprieve. Now, Alimta could be covered in the U.K. through June 2021, and the ruling applies to France, Italy and Spain, Reuters reports.

Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson estimates that Alimta brought in $400 million to $500 million last year in the countries where this new ruling applies. Assuming the drug is protected through 2021, when a particular method patent expires, that means a solid boost to Lilly's revenue for years to come

And that, in turn, means "a meaningful impact on EPS," because the almost all of those sales would be "incremental margin," Anderson said. So, the ruling could add nearly 10% to Lilly's per-share earnings from 2016 to 2020, he estimates.

An Alimta patent infringement fight continues in the U.S., but previous rulings have upheld the validity of that 2022 patent, which, like the 2021 U.K. patent, covers a method of administering Alimta alongside certain vitamins to prevent severe side effects. In any case, as Anderson points out, Lilly holds a composition patent that should protect the drug through January 2017. Plus, the company is expected to prevail in the infringement fight.

The U.K. ruling does not apply in Germany, where an appeals court ruled in favor of Actavis earlier this year, opening the floodgates for generic competition there.

- read the Reuters news

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