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PHARMACEUTICAL

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.

NORWAY

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

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