Teva Wins Appeal Preventing Generic Copy of Cephalon Drug

By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on December 09, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. scored a victory in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals after it ruled a rival company cannot produce generic copies of one of its drugs until 2019.

Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. sought to sell a generic copy of Cephalon's (Teva's recent $6 billion acquisition) drug Fentora. The fast-dissolving painkiller, used to relieve episodes of cancer pain in adults already taking opioids, reportedly generated $81 million for Cephalon in the first half of 2011. It appears Watson was trying to get in on the action.

Unfortunately for the rival company, a lower court found that Watson's demonstrated intent to manufacture, market and sell the generic version of Fentora would infringe on its patent covering the process of dissolving the pill orally. Apparently, it's pretty difficult to formulate a drug that you can take with a glass of water. Since Cephalon's patent doesn't expire until 2019, Watson would have to wait almost 10 years before producing the generic drug.

In upholding the lower court's decision in a notice without a formal opinion, the Federal Circuit re-emphasized that Watson cannot sell generic versions of the drug until Cephalon's patent expires.

Teva has been very active in the Federal Circuit lately, recently losing an appeal against AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals for the rights to cholesterol drug Crestor.

Given its recent "series of unusually robust price increases" for several Cephalon products and its more-recent victory in the Federal Circuit, however, it doesn't look like Teva will be feeling the sting of losing the rights to Crestor any time soon.

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