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The Associated Press September 1, 2010, 2:24PM ET

Court affirms Eli Lilly patents protecting Evista

Eli Lilly and Co. said Wednesday a federal appeals court upheld patents protecting its osteoporosis treatment Evista, giving the drugmaker a victory after some patent-related setbacks this summer.

The Indianapolis company said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court ruling on the method-of-use patents protecting the drug, which brought in about $1 billion in sales last year.

Method-of-use patents involve a drug's approved use or indication. The patents protect Evista in the U.S. through March 2014.

Aside from osteoporosis, Evista also is approved as a preventive treatment to reduce the risk of breast cancer in some postmenopausal women.

In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a lower court's ruling that a patent on its cancer drug Gemzar is invalid. The drug is set to lose patent exclusivity on Nov. 15.

Last month, a federal court ruled that Lilly's method-of-use patent behind the attention deficit hyperactivity drug Strattera was invalid. The patent is set to expire in May 2017.

The drugmaker is appealing the ruling, and yesterday the federal appeals court granted an injunction preventing generic competition until it makes a decision, Lilly spokesman Mark Taylor said.

Lilly's patent woes are not limited to court cases. Patents protecting its best-seller, the anti-psychotic Zyprexa, and its second-best seller, the antidepressant Cymbalta, will expire in 2011 and 2013, respectively.

The company's stock rose 60 cents to $34.19 in Wednesday afternoon trading. Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed nearly 3 percent.

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