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Novartis Owes Plexxikon $178 Million in Drug Patent Fight (3)

July 23, 2021, 12:48 AM

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. must pay Daiichi Sankyo’s Plexxikon Inc. $178 million for infringing two cancer drug patents, a federal jury in California ruled.

Plexxikon’s patents are for compounds it began developing in 2005 that help reduce cancer cell growth. Plexxikon relied on its inventions to co-develop the skin cancer drug Zelboraf with Roche. Novartis failed to persuade the jury that the patents are invalid.

The verdict on Thursday is a blow to Novartis, whose Tafinlar and a companion melanoma drug Mekinist generated $1.5 billion in revenue last year, and $393 million in the first quarter.

Novartis “is considering further its options,” including an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a company spokesperson said.

Novartis’s attorney Thomas Steindler told the jury in closing arguments Wednesday that Plexxikon sued Novartis as it was “all about the money” even though it didn’t use the patents to make any drugs of its own.

“The jury was careful and awarded us what we’d asked for down to the penny,” Plexxikon’s lawyer Daralyn Durie said after the verdict came down.

The jury delivered the verdict after less than a day of deliberations, ending the in-person trial in Oakland that started July 12 and included testimony from scientists and company executives.

“Genus patents -- like those in the lawsuit -- are routinely used to prevent competitors from knocking off our scientific innovations with slight molecular changes,” Plexxikon’s Chief Executive Officer Chao Zhang said in a statement.

The case is Plexxikon Inc. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., 4:17-cv-04405, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

(Adds Plexxikon comment in eight paragraph)

--With assistance from Susan Decker.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Malathi Nayak in San Francisco at mnayak21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Tina Davis at tinadavis@bloomberg.net

Joe Schneider

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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