March 25, 2013 | By Márcio Barra
Last Thursday, Astrazeneca’s new chief executive Pascal Soriot announced its massive re-structuring plan for the company, with 5050 layoffs planned, more focus on the blood thinner Brilinta, and a $240 million bet on a novel but untested technology from a small biotechnology company, Moderna Therapeutics. For this to succeed, revenue has to be secured as the company is struggling with falling sales of other blockbuster medicines that have lost patent protection or will do so soon, posing a major challenge to new CEO Pascal Soriot. And today, good news reached AstraZeneca
Today, via a press release, the company announced that it won a US legal judgment defending the patent of its cholesterol lowering drug Crestor, with generic firms Watson Laboratories, a unit of Actavis, and Egis admitting that the cholesterol drug’s patent is valid. In return, AstraZeneca agreed to share the market starting in May 2, 2016, 67 days before its pediatric exclusivity expires, with the companies having to pay royalties (39% of net sales) to AstraZeneca during that period.
The two generic firms had been trying to circumvent the patent by developing an alternative chemical version of Crestor, rosuvastatin zinc (instead of calcium).
Crestor is a cornerstone of AstraZeneca’s profits, generating $6.2bn for the company last year, although its sales have been hit by patent’s expiries of similar cholesterol lowering treatments like 2011 Lipitor. Stopping the sale of generics of Crestor is a needed move for a company about to undergo deep restructuring
Back in December, AstraZeneca wrapped up patent litigation with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, following Teva’s patent infringement suit for the rights to Crestor in 2008.
Now, there’s some controversy on whether these deals, dubbed patent settlements, are anticompetitive or monopolizing, alongisde keeping cheaper products off the market. To read more about that, follow this link for an article by Ed Silverman on that topic.