12:00 AM
Sep 25, 2006
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

3-card monte

A U.S. district court decision last week depriving ImClone Systems Inc. of exclusive rights to a patent covering the sale of its Erbitux cetuximab cancer drug leaves the company in an interesting position: pay the new patent owners a licensing fee in order to sell Erbitux or try to persuade the court to invalidate the patent, which would mean relinquishing IMCL's ability to prosecute other companies trying to market similar products.

Initially, IMCL is aiming for option three: trying to overturn the ruling on appeal in order to regain exclusive marketing rights.

In 2001, U.S. Patent No. 6,217,866 - covering the use of anti-EGFR MAbs in combination with chemotherapy to treat cancer - was assigned to a group of scientists affiliated with a predecessor of Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. (now sanofi-aventis Group, Euronext:SAN; SNY, Paris, France). However, according to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the actual inventors were three scientists from the Weizmann Institute and they are...

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