American Journal of Law & Medicine

Patents: high court declines Prozac patent review, handing victory to generic maker.

Eli Lilly & Co. v. Barr Laboratories, Inc. (1)--On January 14, 2002, the Supreme Court declined to review a federal appeals court decision that allowed Barr Laboratories, Inc. (Barr) to launch a generic version of the popular antidepressant drug, Prozac. Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) had sought review by the Supreme Court of a May 30, 2001 decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled that Lilly's patent on Prozac was invalid because it essentially duplicated an earlier patent. (2) Without comment or dissent, the justices let the Court of Appeals ruling stand, which resulted in Lilly losing patent protection in August 2001. The Supreme Court's decision to deny the petition for a writ of certiorari does not indicate that the Court is affirming the lower court; however, in the absence of a Supreme Court review, the appellate decision stands.

Two of Lilly's patents were involved in the proceedings: the first patent involves a formula for and a method of administering fluoxetine hydrochloride ("fluoxetine hydrochloride patent"); the second patent involves a method of blocking serotonin uptake in brain neurons by administering fluoxetine hydrochloride ("serotonin-blocking patent"). …

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