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Jury rules in favor of Amgen Inc in patent dispute over anemia treatment

Amgen Inc. declared that a jury ruled in its favor in a patent dispute over an anemia treatment whose possible U.S. launch could challenge the drug maker's top-selling drug.

Switzerland-based Roche, who makes the treatment called Mircera, said it was considering its legal options after the ruling, including the possibility of an appeal.

In a trial begun last month, a U.S. District Court jury in Boston ruled that the Roche treatment infringes on 11 Amgen patent claims.

Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Amgen said it would ask the court for an injunction to prevent Roche from selling Mircera in the United States. A hearing on the request is scheduled Nov. 15 - the day after Roche expects a decision from the Food and Drug Administration on U.S. approval for the anemia treatment, which was approved in July in the European Union.

Roche said Tuesday that it continues to believe Amgen's patent claims are invalid.

"Amgen has had an extended monopoly for the last 20 years in the U.S. blocking new therapeutic options to treat anemia from being introduced," said William Burns, chief executive of Roche's pharmaceutical division.

Amgen said it believes Roche's product provides no clinical or patient benefit over its own anemia medications, Aranesp and Epogen.

Aranesp was Amgen's best-selling drug last year, with $4.12 billion in sales. But sales have recently fallen off after the FDA earlier this year required stronger warnings for the drug and asked for additional studies. Using too much of the drug can increase the risk of blood clots, heart attack and death, according to the FDA.

In August, Amgen announced plans to cut up to 14 percent of its work force, or 2,200 to 2,600 positions, and it lowered its profit expectations because of declining Aranesp sales.

Shares of Amgen rose $1.47 to $57.59 in afternoon trading.

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