Bloomberg News

Bayer Sues Watson to Block Generic Birth-Control Pill

November 06, 2007

Bayer AG (BAYN), Germany's biggest drugmaker, sued Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. to block sales of a generic form of the oral contraceptive Yaz.

Watson is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to sell low-cost copies of the birth-control drug, Bayer said in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Las Vegas. Bayer contends the generic version would infringe three patents, two of which expire in 2014 and one in 2020.

``Watson has committed an act of infringement,'' Bayer said in the complaint. ``Bayer Schering and Bayer Healthcare are entitled to relief.''

The Leverkusen, Germany-based company is asking for a court order that would block Watson from getting FDA approval as well as cash compensation to cover damages.

Yaz is a smaller-dose version of Bayer's birth-control drug Yasmin. Sales of Yaz, Yasmin and the related birth-control pill called Yasminelle generated 768 million euros ($1.12 billion) in sales in the first nine months of the year.

Patty Eisenhaur, a spokeswoman for Corona, California-based Watson, didn't immediately return voicemail or e-mail messages seeking comment.

In 2005, Bayer sued another generic maker, Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., over Yasmin. A trial in the case to determine the validity of Bayer's patents is set to start Nov. 15.

Watson fell 10 cents to $29.95 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares are up 15 percent this year. Bayer American depositary receipts, each representing one ordinary share, rose 15 cents to $82.75 in over-the-counter trading and have increased 55 percent this year.

The case is Bayer Schering Pharma AG v. Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., 07cv1472, U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

To contact the reporters on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net; Jeff St.Onge in Washington at jstonge@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Patrick Oster at poster@bloomberg.net; Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net.


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