AstraZeneca settles with Indian drugmaker

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said Tuesday it had agreed to a deal that would enable top Indian generic drug firm Ranbaxy to produce its own version of heartburn treatment Nexium from 2014.

AstraZeneca, like much of the global pharmaceutical sector, is struggling with fierce competition from generic drugmakers that are based in low-cost economies such as India.

Ranbaxy and AstraZeneca have been embroiled in legal action since 2005 over Ranbaxy’s intention to market a generic version of Nexium. Ranbaxy received a tentative approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in February.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ranbaxy will be allowed to start selling a generic version of Nexium, under a license from AstraZeneca, from May 2014.

“AstraZeneca today announced it has entered into a settlement agreement in its Nexium patent infringement litigation against Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. and its affiliates,” AstraZeneca said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The agreement settles the patent infringement litigation filed by AstraZeneca following Ranbaxy’s submission to the United States Food and Drug Administration of an Abbreviated New Drug Application for a generic version of Nexium.”

Separately, Ranbaxy will also be allowed to produce some of Astrazeneca’s Nexium supplies for the US market from May 2010. That will include the manufacture of esomeprazole magnesium, the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Nexium, from May 2009.

Nexium, which treats stomach ulcers and heartburn, is one of the world’s biggest-selling prescription medicines with annual sales of around $5.1 billion, with much of this generated in the US market.


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.