Merck sues to block generic Vytorin

By Susan Decker and David Voreacos
Bloomberg News / March 5, 2010

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WASHINGTON - Merck & Co. and its Schering unit is suing Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. to prevent it from selling a generic version of the cholesterol drug Vytorin in the United States until 2017.

Teva is seeking US Food and Drug Administration approval to sell a copy of the medicine, which combines the compound ezetimibe that’s in Merck’s Zetia with simvistatin, the active ingredient in its Zocor. Merck claims Teva’s version would infringe two patents that expire in 2014 and 2017 and wants a judge to block approval until then.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., acquired full rights to Vytorin with its $41 billion purchase of Schering Plough Corp. last year. Global 2009 sales of the drug were $2.1 billion, Merck said Feb. 16.

Mylan Inc., the biggest US maker of generic drugs, was sued in December over its application to sell generic Vytorin. That case is pending.

The lawsuit against Petah Tikva, Israel-based Teva, the world’s biggest maker of generic drugs, was filed on Tuesday in federal court in Newark. Officials of the company didn’t immediately reply to e-mails seeking comment.