California investors may have heard that a U.S. court has ruled that Lilly has intellectual property protection for the drug Alimta until 2022. The decision is the latest win for the drug manufacturer in its long-running patent battle with rival Teva over the popular lung cancer drug.

In an effort to win the right to make a generic version of Alimta, Teva launched a series of lawsuits over the validity of Lilly’s patents for the drug. In 2012, a court rejected Teva’s challenge to Alimta’s chemical make-up. The company then sued Lilly over a method-of-use patent that covers the co-administration of Alimta with vitamin B12 and folic acid in order to protect patients from side effects of the drug, arguing that the combination was obvious. However, in an initial ruling in 2014, a judge found that combining Alimta with the nutrients was not obvious at the time the drug was developed.

Though Lilly’s compound patent for Alimta expires in 2017, the latest ruling should essentially provide the company market exclusivity until May 2022. Alimta, which brought in $2.7 billion in sales in 2014, is one of Lilly’s few top-selling drugs without a generic competitor. A legal representative for the company said significant research had gone into the product and it “deserves intellectual property protection.”

Disputes over intellectual property issues can be complex and protracted. Business owners who are facing challenges to their proprietary assets may wish to consult with a lawyer. Legal counsel could help explain a client’s options for protecting their intellectual property and advise a course of action that is appropriate to the case.

Source: Pharma Times, “Lilly wins again in Alimta patent row with Teva,” George Underwood, Aug. 26, 2015