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MedImmune Settles Patent Lawsuit With Genentech

By Kendra Marr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 23, 2008

Biotechnology firms MedImmune and Genentech settled a lawsuit over a patented component of Synagis, MedImmune's best-selling drug, which is aimed at preventing respiratory infections in infants.

The settlement follows a Supreme Court decision last year that allowed MedImmune to sue in an attempt to overturn a Genentech patent while MedImmune continued to pay royalties to use it. The patent covers a technology that uses cell cultures to manufacture human antibodies. MedImmune, a Gaithersburg-based unit of the drug giant AstraZeneca, said Genentech had illegally obtained the patent by conspiring with a British biotech company to monopolize the technology.

"The parties advise the court that they have reached a settlement," a court filing posted Wednesday on the Web site for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California said. "The parties will file the stipulation of dismissal within the next several weeks."

No details of the settlement were provided.

MedImmune spokeswoman Jamie Lacey declined to comment. Caroline Pecquet, a spokeswoman for Genentech, based in South San Francisco, Calif., also declined to offer further information about the settlement.

The dispute dates to 2003, when MedImmune sued Genentech to invalidate the patent. U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer threw out the suit, saying Genentech's patent was legal, and a federal appeals panel upheld the decision in 2005.

The Supreme Court last year revived the struggle by ruling that patent holders had previously been too protected under the law.

Fourth-quarter sales of Synagis were $480 million.

Genentech's stock rose 67 cents yesterday, to $68.89, and AstraZeneca's shares rose 1 cent, to $44.01.

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