Sanofi-Aventis files suit in China over docetaxel patent

SHANGHAI, China Sanofi-Aventis has filed a suit with the Beijing High Court against Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine over patent infringement for docetaxel, a cytotoxic injectable, according to the China Business News.

The company is seeking over $13 million in the newest battle between these two companies. Both have been fighting over the drug since 2003, when Aventis Pharma, pre-merger with Sanofi, filed a lawsuit claiming Jiangsu Hengrui had infringed on the production method of its patented drug, docetaxel. Since then, the two companies have been exchanging court decisions, with this recent decision coming on the heels of a ruling in June by the Shanghai Higher People’s Court, that withdrew a ruling in favor of Sanofi-Aventis in September 2006.

Dai Hongbin, the board director of Jiangsu Hengrui, said that the company will challenge the allegations made by Sanofi-Aventis, and stated that Jiangsu Hengrui has not infringed on any patents. “We started to market the drug in 2003, and while the patent application record shows that Aventis applied for a patent in 2001 and 2002, the patent was not approved until 2006,” he said.

Industry figures showed that docetaxel generated sales of $2 billion worldwide in 2005 for Sanofi- Aventis, as compared to only about $40 million for Jiangsu Hengrui last year.