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Court Denies Drug Patent Petition

September 14, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The maker of a knockoff of the popular anti-cancer drug Taxol won another legal victory in the battle to release its generic version.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday denied a petition to stay a federal judge’s order requiring Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. to take its patent off the government’s list of Taxol patents. If the patent were kept on the list, a cheaper version of the drug could have been delayed by at least 30 months.

The decision paves the way for Ivax Corp. to release its generic version of Taxol. Bristol-Myers is currently the only manufacturer of the drug and makes about $3 million a day selling it in the United States.

``We have always taken the position that this patent should not have been listed in the (government’s patent list), and are pleased the appellate court declined to delay the order from becoming effective,″ said Neil Flanzraich, vice chairman and president of Ivax.

The litigation began in August after the small pharmaceutical firm American BioScience Inc. was issued a Taxol-related patent. It sued Bristol-Myers to force the drug giant to recognize the patent and list it with the government.

New York-based Bristol-Myers quickly settled with American Bioscience, but Ivax opposed the deal.

Ivax received tentative Food and Drug Administration approval for its Taxol version, called paclitaxel, but a final decision was delayed pending the outcome of the patent dispute.

It is not clear when the FDA will consider approving the generic drug.

Since 1992, Bristol-Myers has had exclusive rights to market and manufacture the drug, which costs between $1,000 and $3,000 per course of treatment. Drug prices typically fall by about a third in the first six months after a generic version is released.

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