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The Associated Press October 7, 2010, 10:51AM ET

Watson Pharma can launch generic Opana ER in 2012

Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Thursday it settled a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc. and will start selling a generic version of Endo's pain drug Opana ER in September 2012.

Under the settlement, Watson gets a royalty-free license to the patents protecting Opana ER. It can start selling its version of the drug on Sept. 15, 2012, in strengths of 5 milligrams to 40 milligrams. Opana is an extended release oral painkiller, and it was first approved in August 2006. The patents supporting the drug start to expire in September 2013.

Endo, of Chadds Ford, Pa., reported $140 million in sales of injectable Opana and of Opana ER in the first half of 2010. Combined sales in 2009 were $230.6 million. Opana, or oxymorphone, is used to treat moderate to severe pain in patients who need continuous treatment for a long time.

Endo filed suit against Watson in March, after the Morristown, N.J., company filed for market approval of its version of Opana ER.

The settlement allows Watson to sell a cheaper generic version of Opana ER before the patents on the drug expire. But the settlement keeps a generic competitor off the market for another two years. Endo settled a similar patent lawsuit with Impax Laboratories Inc. in June, allowing Impax to start selling generic Opana ER on Jan. 1, 2013.

Watson shares gained 13 cents to $44.38 in morning trading, and Endo stock advanced 46 cents to $34.60.

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