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Biogen loses patent case, opening door to competition on MS drug Avonex

A U.S. federal jury invalidated the last of Biogen Inc.'s patents covering its blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Avonex.

The development means competitors Pfizer Inc. and EMD Serono will not have to pay the Cambridge, Mass., biotechnology company any royalties on the sale of their drug Rebif, which also uses the same mechanism as Avonex to treat multiple sclerosis, according to Investor's Business Daily.

Biogen filed a lawsuit against the companies in 2010, alleging their medicine infringed on its patent. The company also filed similar lawsuits against Bayer AG, which markets Betaseron, and Novartis AG, which sells Extavia — drugs that also use the same mechanism as Avonex to treat multiple sclerosis.

These companies will also not be required to pay royalties to Biogen as a result of the decision in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Avonex contributed $2.15 billion toward Biogen's revenues in 2017, making it the second-highest-selling drug for the company after Tecfidera, another multiple sclerosis treatment, which generated $4.21 billion in sales.

EMD Serono is a Merck KGaA unit.