Teva settles OxyContin patent lawsuit

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world's largest generic-drug maker, said it will continue to sell a version of Purdue Pharma Ltd.'s OxyContin painkiller for an undisclosed period after settling a lawsuit. The agreement will end a case in federal court in the southern district of New York and calls for Teva to halt sales at an unspecified date. The accord requires approval of the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department and the court, Petah Tikva-based Teva said Tuesday. Last month, Purdue and Endo Pharmaceutical Holdings Inc. reached a settlement in an OxyContin patent dispute that required Endo to stop selling a generic version at the end of the year. In return, Purdue released the company from liability for any infringement of three Purdue patents. Teva said the agreement releases the company from liability. In June 2005, a US appeals court in Washington cleared the way for Endo's generic version by saying Purdue's patents couldn't be enforced because of misrepresentations to the US Patent and Trademark Office. The appeals court later reconsidered its ruling and sent the case back to a federal district court in New York for further review. A finding that the patents were valid and enforceable would have given closely held Purdue the right to seek compensation from Endo for lost sales. Endo said in July it expected oxycodone, the key ingredient in OxyContin, to generate sales of $50 million to $60m. this year. OxyContin, a time-release painkiller prescribed to cancer patients and chronic-pain sufferers, had about $2 billion in sales in 2004. The drug is considered a controlled substance because its potential for abuse is similar to that of morphine, according to Purdue's Web site. (Bloomberg)