Ranbaxy Laboratories and Agvar Chemicals are going head to head against Barr Labs and Teva Pharmaceuticals in a battle over the hayfever pill, fexofenadine, a copycat version of Sanofi-Aventis’ $1.4 billion dollar drug Allegra.

Barr Pharmaceuticals won FDA approval to market its generic version of Allegra earlier this year [[15/07/05f]]. Although the company still has some way to go before launching its offering, a US district court judge in 2004 ruled that Barr had not infringed three of the patents covering the product, and an additional patent was declared invalid in April this year. The court has yet to rule on five more patents covering the product and, although no trial date has been set, Barr expects the case may be ready early in 2006 [[02/07/04d]].

Barr has since teamed up with Israeli generics drugmaker, Teva Pharmaceuticals. Although it claims first-to-file status for fexofenadine - which would make it eligible for 180 days' marketing exclusivity under US law - under the terms of the agreement it will pass its exclusive position on to Teva to launch its own version during the exclusivity period, while Teva will pay Barr a percentage of the gross profit from its product [[08/09/05e]].

However, now Ranbaxy and Agvar are seeking damages for “breach of contract, fraud and interference associated with the supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients regarding the commercialisation of fexofenadine in the USA.” Commenting on the action, Jay Deshmukh, vice president of global intellectual property at Ranbaxy, said: “We operated in good faith over a period of five years lending technical expertise to Barr in the development of the fexofenadine hydrochloride tablets, and investing heavily in facilities to meet the demands of Barr, only to be surprised by an undisclosed relationship between Barr and Teva.”