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Trial doesn't fix tribulations

Amgen Inc.'s win last week in a court battle with Roche over erythropoiesis-stimulating agents turns out to be a small victory in the grand scheme of things. As AMGN's earnings report showed last week, the falloff in sales of its own ESAs hasn't yet hit bottom and is likely to continue as private insurers reevaluate their coverage. The company clearly needs new drivers of growth, but absent a major acquisition the near-term prospects look slim.

In August, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted AMGN's motion for summary judgment that ROG's Mircera methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta infringed one claim of AMGN's U.S. Patent No. 5,955,422. But the validity of the patent related to erythropoietin pharmaceutical composition was still up in the air(see BioCentury, Sept. 3).

Last week, a jury ruled that claim was valid, as well as 14 others in AMGN's U.S. Patents Nos. 5,441,868; 5,547,933; 5,618,698; and 5,756,349. It also ruled that Mircera infringed 10 of the valid claims in the '933, '868 and '698 patents (see B6).

While Mircera is

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