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Bayer unit sues Abbott over Humira arthritis drug


FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters)—Bayer Healthcare L.L.C.—a unit of Frankfurt, Germany-based Bayer A.G.—is suing Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories in a patent infringement case relating to Humira, Abbott's top-selling drug.

In a suit filed on Dec. 24 in the U.S. district court for the Eastern District of Texas, Bayer Healthcare said Abbott's drug infringes a 1997 Bayer patent "Human anti-TNF antibodies."

A Bayer spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday that the company had filed a lawsuit, but declined to elaborate.

An Abbott spokesman said Humira does not infringe Bayer's patent and Abbott believes that Bayer's patent is invalid.

"We will vigorously defend against this lawsuit," he said.

Bayer Healthcare asked the court to determine that Abbott infringed the patent, and to award damages for past and future infringements as well attorney fees, the court filing showed.

Bayer chose to file in Texas because Abbott and subsidiaries Abbott Bioresearch Center Inc. and Abbott Biotechnology Ltd. sell and advertise Humira there, the documents showed.

The patent covers antibodies that fight a protein called tumor necrosis factor—TNF—that causes inflammation.

Humira is used to treat patients with arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn's disease and a form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis.

Humira competes with the drug Remicade, made by Johnson & Johnson Services Inc.'s Centocor unit, and Wyeth's Enbrel.

Abbott forecast 2008 Humira sales of more than $4.4 billion.