Ribapharm Loses Ruling on Hepatitis C Drug; Finding Allows Generic Competition for Ribavirin
A federal judge in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday dealt a "potentially severe blow" to California-based Ribapharm and its majority owner, ICN Pharmaceuticals, ruling that a new generic formulation of Ribapharm's hepatitis C drug ribavirin would not infringe on patents owned by ICN, the Los Angeles Times reports. The ruling allows Teva Pharmaceuticals, Three Rivers Pharmaceuticals and Novartis to produce generic versions of Ribapharm's top-selling drug (White, Los Angeles Times, 7/17). Officials for Ribapharm and ICN said that they intend to appeal the ruling, Reuters/Los Angeles Times reports (Reuters/Los Angeles Times, 7/17). In 2002, Ribapharm had sales of about $865 million for ribavirin in the United States and about $387 million in Europe. Schering-Plough licenses ribavirin from Ribapharm and markets it worldwide as a dual therapy with hepatitis C drug Peg-Intron, Schering's version of pegylated interferon. "With this court ruling, I expect the FDA to approve multiple ribavirin generics within the next month," Scott Kay, a Banc of America Securities analyst, said (Los Angeles Times, 7/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.