Novartis' generics arm Sandoz is launching its long-acting buprenophine patch Reletrans in the UK following victory in a patent battle with Napp Pharmaceuticals.

The Appeal Court in London has ruled that Sandoz' generic seven-day buprenorphine patch, Reletrans, does not infringe Napp's patent, and therefore can be marketed by the firm for the treatment of non-malignant pain of moderate intensity when an opioid is necessary for obtaining adequate analgesia.

Sandoz said that pending the outcome of the case it had undertaken not to sell its patch, but the court's decision, finer details of which are to be made available later this month, clears the way for the launch.

This ruling means that the NHS will now have access to alternative seven-day buprenorphine patches, including Reletrans, which the company says will see the price of this medicine drop through increased competition.

"This ruling is a victory for generic medicines in the UK. I am pleased the NHS will now have a wider choice of medicines in addressing pain," noted Stewart Pearce, head of Primary Care at Sandoz.