A US appeals court has upheld a ruling against generic firms Apotex and Impax in a case brought by AstraZeneca to defend its patents for the antiulcerant Prilosec.

The decision from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington DC allows the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker to seek compensation from the generic firms and Impax's partner Teva Pharmaceutical Industries for any sales of copycat Prilosec (omeprazole) they had when the patents in the drug were in force.

The ruling is the latest stage of the litigation brought in 2000, when AstraZeneca sued a host of companies which had filed applications with the US Food and Drug Administration to sell generic versions of Prilosec, which not so long ago was the world’s best-selling drug. The victory is a boost for the firm seeing as a court in New York recently decided that one of those firms, Mylan Labs, did not actually infringe its patents for omeprazole.

AstraZeneca said that the latest decision has upheld both the validity and enforceability of its patents on Prilosec and “once again reaffirms the strength of our intellectual property''.

Deals signed with Melior and Singapore cancer centre
Meantime, AstraZeneca has signed an agreement with the USA’s Melior Discovery whereby the latter’s in-vivo theraTRACE indications discovery platform will be used to evaluate the therapeutic activity of selected AstraZeneca compounds.

The latter has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Cancer Centre Singapore and the country’s National University Hospital for preclinical and clinical development of existing AZ compounds with potential in inoperable hepatocellular carcinoma.