News from Hepatitis Week of Feb. 16, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 07

Staunch Patent Defense to Slow Introduction of Generic Ribavirin

The drug manufacturer that may pose the last remaining legal obstacle to the introduction of a generic version of the hepatitis C treatment ribavirin said it intends to vigorously defend its patent in court.

Ribapharm Inc. announced Feb. 10 that it would not settle with Three Rivers Pharmaceuticals as Schering-Plough had done a few days earlier (See Hepatitis Week, Feb. 9, 2003).

Three Rivers had said that its generic product would not be launched until its patent lawsuit with Ribapharm is resolved and FDA approval is granted.

Dr. Kim D. Lamon, president and CEO of Ribapharm, said the company is confident in the "validity and the strength of Ribapharm's patents for ribavirin and also in our ability to defend those patents in litigation."

Lamon said Schering's litigation involved patents and issues that are very different from those contained in the Ribapharm litigation. She added that Schering's decision to settle "in no way reflects on the strength of our patents or impacts our litigation strategy."

Schering-Plough markets Ribapharm's ribavirin in the U.S., Europe and Japan under the brand name Rebetol for use in combination with its Intron A or Peg-Intron to treat chronic hepatitis C in adult patients with compensated liver disease.

Ribapharm also recently licensed ribavirin to F. Hoffmann-La Roche for its own version of ribavirin, Copegus, globally.

Other sources: Ribapharm