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Gilead ordered to pay Merck $2.5B for hepatitis C drug patent infringement

A federal jury in a U.S. District Court in Delaware ordered Gilead Sciences Inc. to pay Merck & Co. Inc. $2.5 billion in damages for infringing the latter's patents in developing two hepatitis C drugs, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The jury decided that Gilead's development of blockbuster drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni violated patents held by Idenix Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Merck in 2014.

Gilead said it will "vigorously" appeal the ruling, the latest in a series of patent infringement clashes between the two drugmakers. The company added that it continues to believe that Idenix's U.S. patent is invalid, and said the ruling will not hamper its ability to sell its hepatitis C drugs.

Meanwhile, Merck applauded the verdict, saying the decision upholds patent protections needed in the development of new treatments.

In June, in a separate case on hepatitis C drug patents, a federal judge reversed a jury's decision ordering Gilead to pay Merck $200 million. The judge concluded Merck engaged in misconduct in obtaining its hepatitis C patents.