Abbott Laboratories has been granted a preliminary injunction in the USA against two companies angling to launch generic versions of its once-daily antibiotic product, Biaxin XL (clarithromycin).

The injunction, against India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories and US generics house Andrx Corp, blocks the launch of their copycat versions of Biaxin XL, at least until the patent infringement case with Abbott goes to trial. This should take place in 2006, according to Abbott.

Biaxin has long been one of Abbott’s blockbuster products, and last year brought in sales of $1.2 billion dollars. Immediate-release versions of the drug are now subject to generic competition, and the company said in its third quarter results statement that global sales had dipped more than 20% year-on-year, coming in at $177 million for the quarter.

The decline has been limited by the fact that Biaxin XL is still under patent protection, and the 500mg version of this formulation accounts for three quarters of the entire franchise sales.

So far, Abbott has done well defending this product. Earlier this year, the company won an injunction against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, blocking the sale of its copycat version of this formulation even though Teva won approval for it in the USA, along with merger partner Ivax [[07/06/05a]] [[03/06/05f]].