AstraZeneca gets $76 million in Prilosec decision

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AstraZeneca has been awarded $76 million in damages in a ruling over Apotex's sales of omeprazole, a generic version of AZ's Prilosec, between 2004 and 2007. That amount represents the equivalent of 50% of Apotex's profits during the three-and-a-half years it sold the drug.

According to a statement from AZ, US District Judge Denise Cote's decision upheld two AstraZeneca formulation patents covering Prilosec, and found that Apotex's generic omeprazole formulation infringed on those patents. Since a 2007 decision had already settled the patent infringement issue, the amount of damages was the only issue left to be resolved in the current decision. Apotex had requested a judgment of less than 7%, noting that by November 2003, three other generic versions of Prilosec had already entered the market.

However, Reuters reported, Cote noted that two of those versions were under the threat of patent litigation, while the third lacked the manufacturing capacity to meet full market demand. Because of that, she said, Apotex's version would likely have created significant price reductions on Prilosec, and represented a "golden opportunity" for the company.

The $76-million figure does not include interest, and both sides have a Dec. 6 deadline to present a proposed settlement amount that does include interest.

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