Teva Pharmaceutical yesterday settled a patent infringement lawsuit with Purdue out of court, agreeing to stop selling its generic version of the painkiller OxyContin (oxycodone HCl extended-release) “at a future date.” In return, Purdue will not sue Teva for past infringement of the product's armoury.

The settlement is subject to review by the US antitrust authorities and by the District Court for the Southern District of New York. “Because of today's agreement, we no longer have to wait for a trial, and possible appeals, in order to secure the result provided in the agreement. We have avoided the risks, uncertainty and costs of continued litigation," said Michael Friedman, Chief Executive of Purdue Pharma, in announcing the end of the lawsuit.

On Monday, Purdue came to a similar agreement with Endo Pharmaceuticals, which will cease selling its copycat offering of OxyContin by the end of the year in return for Purdue to stop its pursuit of damages. In February, the US Court of Appeals ruled that Endo's oxycodone products infringe the Purdue Pharma patents, vacating an earlier trial court finding that Purdue's patents were unenforceable and sending the issue back to the trial court for reconsideration. The two firms have now agreed to propose to the court that Endo's products do infringe Purdue's patents and that it will stop marketing them after December 31 this year.

In 2005, Purdue's product had total annual sales of about $1.2 billion. IMS Health data suggest oxycodone is the leading opioid used in the treatment of moderate-to-severe pain in the USA, with sales of nearly $2 billion for the 12 months ending August 2005.