September 15, 2009 / 4:22 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-US appeals court upholds ban on Roche's anemia drug

* Court sides with Amgen on injunction against Roche

* Lower court to rehear other portions of Amgen suit

* Amgen shares lower (Adds comment from Roche, background, byline)

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - A federal court let stand a ban on the U.S. sale of Roche Holding AG’s ROG.VX Mircera, a rival to Amgen’s (AMGN.O) blockbuster anemia drugs.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in a decision on Tuesday, also partially overturned a lower court ruling in the patent fight. Amgen, which markets the anemia drugs Epogen and Aranesp, had accused Roche in 2005 of patent infringement in the production of Mircera.

Amgen shares were down a little bit more than 1 percent to stand at $58.60 in mid-afternoon trade on the Nasdaq.

The appeals court returned the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to rehear various portions of the case.

But the appeals court let stand the lower court’s ruling that Amgen was entitled to a permanent injunction prohibiting Roche from selling Mircera, which would have competed directly with Amgen’s Epogen.

“Because we leave certain infringement rulings in place, while vacating and remanding others, the district court is of course free to reconsider the scope of its permanent injunction if it wishes. We do not disturb the court’s injunction,” the appeals court said in its ruling.

Roche said in a statement that it was “disappointed the court did not find” in its favor on all of the matters.

In February, Roche characterized Mircera’s sales worldwide as “modest” but “progressing.”

Worldwide sales of Amgen’s once top-selling anemia drug Aranesp, which have seen more than two years of decline over safety concerns and reimbursement restrictions, fell another 16 percent that quarter to $693 million.

Sales of Epogen, an older version of its Aranesp red blood cell booster used primarily in kidney patients, rose 3 percent to $638 million.

Analysts expect Amgen to earn $1.26 per share in the third-quarter ending September 30.

But Amgen’s older biotech drugs, including Epogen and Aranesp, are expected to be among the first targetted if U.S. lawmakers approve sale of generic biologic medicines.

Both Mircera and Epogen, which stimulate production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, are banned by the International Olympic Committee.

The case is an appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, No. 05-CV-12237. (Additional reporting by Deena Beasley; editing by John Wallace, Leslie Gevirtz)

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