A Mixed Bag Of News For Eli Lilly’s Alimta Drug

A Mixed Bag Of News For Eli Lilly's Alimta Drug

According to a report in BusinessWeek ,  pharmaceutical major, Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY) (FRA:LLY), has won its case in the U.S. Court of Appeals relating to patent protection for its compound patent, for Alimta (premetrexed). The drug curtails the tendency of cancerous cells to use folic acid and grow regardless of treatment with drugs.

The ruling means that Alimta is protected in the U.S. up to January 2017.

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The report cites Robert A. Armitage, senior vice president and general counsel of Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY) (FRA:LLY), who says: “We are pleased with today’s ruling from the Court of Appeals affirming the validity of the compound patent for Alimta.  By affirming the district court ruling, we believe that the Court fairly applied long-standing patent law principles. Protection of intellectual property rights is extremely important to the biopharmaceutical industry and the physicians and patients we serve, as these rights help support the development of the next generation of innovative medicines to treat unmet medical needs.” Alimta had revenues of over $2.5 billion  last year.

The judgment by the Court of Appeals was in line with a previous ruling passed by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

The court rejected the opposite party, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (NYSE:TEVA), objections regarding the validity of the patent. According to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (NYSE:TEVA), Lilly’s patent related to a compound that had already been the subject of two earlier patents.

The patent protection on this drug is of great value to Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) (FRA:LLY).

Loss of patent protection on its blockbuster Lipitor drug, endangered almost $8 billion in sales of the cholesterol-reducing drug for Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE).  Loss of patent protection for Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)’s Lipitor meant that competitors could flood the market with generic copy-cat versions of the drug at much lower prices. In the case of Lipitor, these could be almost 30-50 percent less than Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)’s price.

However a news report from Fox Business today that Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY) (FRA:LLY)’s anti-Alzheimer’s drug, solanezumab, failed to slow down meaningfully the progression of the disease in two clinical trials, is not so good news for Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) (FRA:LLY). However, according to Eli Lilly, viewed from another perspective, data suggests that the drug was beneficial with patients suffering from mild Alzheimer’s.

Research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch however, is of the opinion that further trials and development could take the drug from the “very unlikely to work” to “it might work at least for some portion of the patients.” To that extent the news is said to be a possible thesis changer on the stock.

The positive outlook leads the analysts to declare a BUY outlook on the stock, with a price target of $46.00.

On ValueWalk we reported on Eli Lilly’s second quarter earnings, which showed an EPS of 83 cents a share against analysts’ expectations of 77 cents a share. Revenues fell 10 percent to $5.6 billion and showed the effect of patent expirations, such as Zyprexa.