AstraZeneca was cheered this morning after the European Patent Office ruled that the combination patent for the asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease treatment, Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol), is still valid, in spite of a challenge by several generic manufacturers.

This is a significant boost for Anglo-Swedish company, which has been going through a turbulent time of late [[11/10/04a]], [[20/12/04b]], as the decision reinforces the validity of the patent covering the drug, which generated global sales of some $797 million dollars in 2004 – a 32% increase on the previous year [[28/01/05b]] – with Europe accounting for $701 million.

The firm notes that most major European markets have data protection until 2010 and that no copycat version of the product can be launched until its own data exclusivity has expired, or the generic company has submitted its own regulatory package, utilising its own clinical data.