The European Patent Office has put a smile on AstraZeneca’s face this week, after ruling that a patent covering its top-selling drug Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol) in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is valid.

The news marks the second positive ruling from the EPO – in March it deemed a combination patent covering the use of the active ingredients budesonide and formoterol together to be valid [[09/03/05f]].

The patent, which expires in 2018, was challenged by generic manufacturers, Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A., Norton Healthcare Ltd and Generics [UK] Limited. AstraZeneca will be more than pleased with this latest decision as worldwide sales of Symbicort reached $797 million in 2004 and Europe accounted for $701 million of this figure.