(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld two patents for Amgen Inc’s multibillion-dollar rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel, rejecting Novartis AG’s effort to void the patents.
In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. rejected the argument by Novartis’ Sandoz generic drugs unit that the patents should be invalidated because they described concepts contained in previous patents and were therefore “obvious.”
Sandoz had applied to market Erelzi, a generic version of Enbrel. But Enbrel’s active ingredient had patent protection through 2029.
Amgen and Novartis did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In morning trading, Amgen shares were up $12.50, or 5.3%, at $248.36 on the Nasdaq.
Enbrel, used to treat adults with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis, was launched in 1998.
The drug is Amgen’s biggest, accounting for $5.23 billion, or 24%, of its $22.2 billion of product sales in 2019.
Enbrel was developed by Immunex Corp, which Amgen acquired in 2002.
Wednesday’s decision upheld an August 2019 ruling by U.S. District Judge Claire Cecchi in Newark, New Jersey. The Federal Circuit handles intellectual property appeals.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Dan Grebler