In the culmination of a 10-year case, the U.K. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Servier Laboratories in its defense against England’s National Health Service over a patent on cardio drug Coversyl.
The lawsuit surrounded the French pharmaceutical company’s alleged attempt to block the sale of generic versions of Coversyl by defending a patent that the company knew was not valid. The NHS claimed that Servier caused the government financial loss by deceiving the European Patents Office and the courts and sought €220 million ($300 million) in damages.
By a unanimous vote, the court ruled in favor of Servier.
Coversyl’s patent expired in 2001 but the first generic didn’t enter the market until 2007. The NHS argued that it would have saved millions if it had been able to access generics in a timely fashion.
In the case, the NHS argued that Servier protected its exclusivity for Coversyl by obtaining an invalid patent in 2004. Despite 10 companies opposing it in 2006, the European Patent Office stuck with its original decision.
Officials later revoked the patent in 2009, spurring the NHS claim. Courts rejected the government's lawsuit twice before the U.K. government brought the case to the Supreme Court.
In a separate case, European antitrust authorities in 2014 ordered Sevier to pay €331 million ($373 million) over a pay-for-delay scheme on the blockbuster drug. Several generics companies faced smaller fines.
The win for Servier comes three months after a loss in a decades-long case. In March, a court found the company guilty of manslaughter and fraud in the marketing of its amphetamine-derived weight-loss drug Mediator. The court fined Servier €2.7 million ($3.2 million) and issued a suspended prison sentence of four years to former deputy chairman Jean-Philippe Seta.