France’s Servier says it is disappointed by the decision of the UK High Court to award damages to Canadian generic drugmaker Apotex of £17.5 million in a patent dispute concerning its blood-pressure lowering drug Coversyl.

The judgment, by Justice Norris, follows the decision of the late Mr Justice Pumfrey in July 2007 that the UK part of one of Servier's European patents for Coversyl (perindopril), the alpha form, was invalid. A year earlier, Apotex had launched its generic version of the ACE inhibitor onto the UK market.

However citing a case where the European Patent Office had backed the firm, Servier immediately applied for and obtained an interim injunction preventing Apotex from importing generic perindopril into the UK until after a full trial of the patent issues. That took place in March last year and led to the Canadian firm winning a favourable judgment.

That decision has been backed by the latest High Court ruling and Servier is currently considering whether to appeal. However, it did note that Mr Justice Norris' judgment rejected Apotex's original claim for £27 million.

The UK is the only European market, with the exception of The Netherlands, where Servier has been challenged on the validity of its patent on Coversyl and there has been a decision in favour of a generics company.

Nevertheless, Servier seems far from disheartened. The firm noted a recent decision from the Canadian courts which ruled in its favour concerning a patent for perindopril which Apotex has been held to infringe. If that decision is upheld on appeal, Servier will be able to claim compensation from Apotex for infringement,

As the latter company manufactured most of its perindopril in Canada for worldwide distribution, the Neuilly-Sur-Seine-headquartered firm says it is confident that “the level of compensation it will be able to claim from Apotex will be significant”.