Slovenian Court Ends Merck's 10-year Legal Dispute With Krka
Ljubljana - Slovenia's supreme court has rejected an appeal by US-drug group Merck & Co. Inc. in August, ending a 10-year patent dispute with local drug maker Krka d.d. over one of its best-selling drug. The court rejected a final appeal from Merck, ending legal proceedings that started in 1994 when Merck claimed Krka had been violating patent rights for production of Enalapril, a substance used in blood pressure medicine Enap, requested from Krka to stop producing the drug and claimed for financial compensation of around $100 million. In co-operation with its American partner Schein Pharmaceutical, Krka started marketing Enap for the US-market in 2000, when Merck's patent expired. The Slovenian drug maker was also granted permission to enter the US-market by the Food and Drug Administration. “There are no further legal means possible against the verdict of the Supreme Court. The patent infringement dispute between Merck and Krka in the case of Enalapril in Slovenia is therefore ended,” stated Krka. The District Court of Ljubljana had ruled in favour of Krka in the patent infringement lawsuit already in May 2001 and had dropped all claims against the Slovenian company as it had proved during the proceedings that Enap is manufactured by a procedure developed by Krka. Merck's appeal against this judgement was refused by the Ljubljana High Court in September 2002.
According to the company, Enap is the leading drug of its sort on its domestic market and on several markets of central, eastern and southeastern Europe. Krka also exports Enalapril-based drugs to western Europe and the United States. Enap is the company's leading brand of heart and venal drugs, generating revenues of $194.1 million in 2003 and accounting for almost 50% of the Slovenian company's prescription drugs sales.