PHARMACY

Sanofi-Aventis files suit in China over docetaxel patent

BY Drew Buono

SHANGHAI, China Sanofi-Aventis has filed a suit with the Beijing High Court against Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine over patent infringement for docetaxel, a cytotoxic injectable, according to the China Business News.

The company is seeking over $13 million in the newest battle between these two companies. Both have been fighting over the drug since 2003, when Aventis Pharma, pre-merger with Sanofi, filed a lawsuit claiming Jiangsu Hengrui had infringed on the production method of its patented drug, docetaxel. Since then, the two companies have been exchanging court decisions, with this recent decision coming on the heels of a ruling in June by the Shanghai Higher People’s Court, that withdrew a ruling in favor of Sanofi-Aventis in September 2006.

Dai Hongbin, the board director of Jiangsu Hengrui, said that the company will challenge the allegations made by Sanofi-Aventis, and stated that Jiangsu Hengrui has not infringed on any patents. “We started to market the drug in 2003, and while the patent application record shows that Aventis applied for a patent in 2001 and 2002, the patent was not approved until 2006,” he said.

Industry figures showed that docetaxel generated sales of $2 billion worldwide in 2005 for Sanofi- Aventis, as compared to only about $40 million for Jiangsu Hengrui last year.

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CIGNA debuts online Rx pricing guide for patients

BY Jim Frederick

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. Big insurance and pharmacy benefits management company CIGNA HealthCare has launched an updated version of its online Prescription Drug Price Quote tool for its health and PBM plan members as a price-comparison guide.

The web-based guide is available on the My Plans—Pharmacy page at www.mycigna.com. It offers Cigna Pharmacy members real-time, plan-specific cost comparisons for generic, brand name and available therapeutic alternative medications at 57,000 U.S. pharmacies, according to the health plan giant.

“Rather than relying on national average or regional discount information on retail pharmacy prices, the tool displays side-by-side comparisons of exactly what members would pay for brand named medications, available generics and low cost therapeutic options…based on their benefit plan, as well as the total cost of each medication,” Cigna noted in a statement.

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Rexahn receives patent for Zoraxel

BY Drew Buono

ROCKVILLE, Md. Rexahn Pharmaceuticals has received a U.S. Patent for the treatment of sexual dysfunction with its leading drug candidate RX-10100 IR, also known as Zoraxel.

Zoraxel is a drug that enhances neurotransmitters in the brain, both of which play key roles in sexual motivation, erection, and release. This would be the first drug to effect all three phases of sexual activity.

Commenting on today’s news, Chang H. Ahn, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, noted, “This latest patent coverage for Zoraxel significantly strengthens our patent estate. When added to the four CNS-related U.S. patents and two anti-cancer patents already secured, this represents another key milestone for the Company as we move forward with the clinical development for this promising new drug.”

The company plans to initiate a Phase II trial for Zoraxel by the end of this year.

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