AstraZeneca files US action against generic drugs

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said on Wednesday it would sue seven generic drug manufacturers in the United States to defend its patent of cholesterol treatment Crestor.

The world’s top pharmaceuticals companies are facing fierce competition from generic drugs, which are made by other companies once the patent protection expires or are very similar treatments.

“AstraZeneca today announced that it has filed patent infringement actions in United States District Court, District of Delaware, against seven generic drug manufacturers, which have submitted Abbreviated New Drug Applications for CrestorTM,” the company said in a statement.

AstraZeneca recently cited the effect of generic drugs on its earnings when it posted a steep 15 percent drop in third-quarter profits last month.

Crestor is one of AstraZeneca’s five top-selling blockbuster drugs which account for more than half of the group’s revenues.

The other four key drugs are breast cancer medicine Arimidex, heartburn treatment Nexium, schizophrenia drug Seroquel and asthma treatment Symbicort.

Earlier this year, AstraZeneca lost its exclusive patent for Symbicort after generic producers challenged it in the European Patent Office.

AstraZeneca saw net profit sink to $1.34 billion in the three months to September, compared with the same period in 2006.

Revenue climbed by almost 10 percent to $7.15 billion. Faced with soaring costs however, AstraZeneca unveiled plans in July to slash 7,600 jobs by 2010.