US court bans Sun Pharma's generic equivalent of Sanofi's eloxatin

French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis has won a patent infringement lawsuit in a US court against Sun Pharmaceuticals,  which has now been banned from selling the French firm's drug eloxatin, used in the treatment of colon cancer.

The US District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled yesterday that Sun will have to cease all sales of eloxatin in the US from 30 June 2010 until 9 August 2012.
Early this month, Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis settled three similar lawsuits in the US over the same drug against several generics manufacturers.  

It settled with Israel's Teva Pharmaceuticals, Germany's Fresenius Kabi, and Sandoz of Switzerland on the same terms as Sun, where they agreed to cease selling the drug from 30 June 2010 to 9 August 2012, after which, the generic manufacturers could sell the generic version of the drug under a licence, before expiry of the patents.

After settling with these drug makers in the first round, Sanofi-Aventis later settled with Hospira, Mayne Pharma Ltd, Par Pharmaceutical Companies Inc and its partner MN Pharmaceuticals, and Iceland-based Actavis.

The lawsuits relate to the quality and formulation of oxaliplatin, available in the US under the brand name Eloxatin.

Eloxatin, whose patent runs out in August 2016, was first discovered by Japanese professor Yoshinori Kidani and patented the drug in the US in 1979. He in-licensed the drug to Swiss drug maker Debiopharm, which in turn licensed it to Sanofi-Aventis.

Net sales of Eloxatin fell 37 per cent to $913 million and accounted for only 1.1 per cent of the drug major's total pharmaceuticals sales.