Barr Laboratories and Kos Pharmaceuticals say that they are in talks to settle the outstanding patent litigation centred on the latter’s cholesterol-lowering drug, Niaspan (extended release niacin).

The firms expect the court will discontinue and stay all proceedings to allow them to negotiate a deal. Both companies will have the right to have the matter reactivated, if they do not reach a definitive agreement.

Earlier this month, Kos filed for a restraining order to prevent Bar from launching its generic version of the $380 million dollar-a-year drug. A trial is tentatively scheduled to begin in February 2006.

Barr has won tentative US Food and Drug Administration approval for 500mg, 750mg and 100mg versions of the drug, and expects to win the final green following the expiry of Kos’ 30-month stay under the Hatch-Waxman patent challenge provisions today.