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Drug patent is lost.

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline has lost a UK patent case on its top-selling asthma drug.

The High Court ruling yesterday opens the way for cheaper copycat versions of Seretide - also known as Advair - to go on sale in Britain, potentially taking a sizeable chunk out of GSK's profits.

India's Cipla Ltd, US-based Ivax Corp and two other companies manufacturing generic versions of GSK's asthma treatment had challenged a key patent on the drug which expires in 2013.

A spokesman for GSK, which employs 2,200 people in Barnard Castle, County Durham and Ulverston in Cumbria, said the company would be appealing against the ruling.

Seretide/Advair was Glaxo's top-selling product in 2003.

It built global sales of pounds 2.2bn, with 6pc of the total being generated in Britain.

While analysts say the ruling will only affect a small part of Glaxo's market, they fear it could pave the way for further challenges which may affect other countries.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 20, 2004
Words:157
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