Medeva loses patent battle

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MEDEVA, the drugs group, yesterday lost a High Court battle over rights to its new hepatitis B vaccine, seen as the company's most important product, writes Russell Hotten.

Medeva said it was surprised by the decision and would appeal. The company's shares fell from 125p to 119.5p.

Biogen, a US company, brought the action in the UK alleging that Medeva's Hepa-Gene-3 vaccine infringed its patent. The court's decision contradicts a separate ruling last year by the European Patent Office. Biogen has appealed against the EPO's decision. Medeva also faces action on Hepa-Gene-3 from the Institut Pasteur in Paris.

Medeva bought the vaccine from a Swiss company during its development stage, and took it through the final parts of the approval process. However, it was aware that action from Biogen was possible.

The hepatitis B market is worth about dollars 700m a year.