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June 30, 2010 8:36 AM PDT

The biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said a US judge ruled the patent on its cholesterol drug Crestor as valid and enforceable, leading to a 8.86 percent surge in LSE shares.

AstraZeneca won the court ruling three years after it sued generic drugmakers to stop selling cheap Crestor versions in the US before the expiration of patent in 2016.

Delaware District Court Judge Joseph Farnan ruled that the judgment will stop the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from issuing final approvals for the defendants’ Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs) before expiration.

“We are pleased with the court's decision upholding the validity and enforceability of the substance patent. The court's decision reaffirms the strength of the intellectual property protecting Crestor,” said David Brennan, Chief Executive of AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca filed patent infringement actions in December 2007 against eight generic drug manufacturers, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Aurobindo Pharma Ltd., Par Pharmaceutical, Sandoz Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Toronto-based privately held Apotex Inc., and Watson Pharmaceuticals' Cobalt subsidiary.

Crestor is a member of the drug class of statins used to treat high cholesterol and related conditions and to prevent cardiovascular disease. Originally developed by the Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi & Co. Ltd., Crestor was in-licensed to AstraZeneca in April 1998.

In the patent ruling, the court found that no inequitable conduct was committed by any Shionogi employee. The court also held the patent to be non-obvious and properly reissued.

Judge Farnan also held that Apotex USA was liable as a submitter and is therefore bound to the court's decision.

AstraZeneca’s earnings during the latest first quarter were $2.78 billion or $1.90 per share, compared to $2.14 billion or $1.48 per share in the previous year quarter. Revenues rose to $8.58 billion from $7.70 billion a year ago.

Crestor sales rose 27 percent to $1.30 billion from $969 million in the preceding year quarter. Crestor sales increased 22 percent to $583 million in U.S. and 32 percent elsewhere touching $717 million.

AstraZeneca shares are currently trading at 3,208 pence, up 261.0 pence or 8.86 percent on the London Stock Exchange at 12:01 PM BST. On the NYSE, the stock closed up 8.99 percent at $48.74 on Tuesday.

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