Merck was yesterday awarded $2.54 billion in royalties by a federal jury in a patent lawsuit against Gilead over the latter's blockbuster hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni.
The jury in Delaware reached the verdict after a trial that lasted nearly two weeks, finding that a patent acquired by Merck in 2014 on hepatitis C treatments was valid.
Gilead spokeswoman Michele Rest said the company disagreed with the verdict and would appeal, adding it did not stop Gilead from continuing to sell its drugs.
Merck's stock was up slightly to $63 in late trade on the New York Stock Exchange and shares of Gilead were down 2 per cent to $74.06 on the Nasdaq.
Harvoni and Sovaldi in addition to their breakthrough success in curing hepatitis C in over 90 per cent of patients, had also come to be known for their high cost.
The list price of Harvoni was $1,125 per pill with a 12–week programme regimen costing $94,500. Foster City, California-based Gilead, among the largest biotechnology companies globally, made nearly $20 billion on the two drugs in 2015.
The jury verdict noted that Gilead infringed upon an Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc patent for methods used to develop drugs for hepatitis C. Idenix was acquired by Merck in June 2014 for $3.9 billion.
Merck was now asking 9 per cent royalties on Gilead's sales of Sovaldi and Harvoni.
"The jury's verdict upholds patent protections that are essential to the development of new medical treatments," Merck officials said in a statement. "Given that it guarantees a period of return on investment, patent protection provides the research-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries with an incentive to invest in research and development."