March 29, 2006

The trial has begun in a patent lawsuit launched by Forest Pharmaceuticals against Teva Pharmaceutical over the generic firm's bid to market a version of Forest's antidepressant Lexapro -- but a settlement would be a win-win resolution for both firms, according to one analyst.

The trial, taking place in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, is scheduled to end March 27. While most patent litigation settlements occur before a trial begins, Teva and Forest could still settle the suit, analyst Gregg Gilbert of Merrill Lynch writes in a March 21 research note.

A verdict for Teva would have "significant downside" for Forest, as Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate) accounts for roughly 65 percent of Forest's sales, Gilbert says. Lexapro is expected to generate sales of $13.7 billion until Lexapro's patent expires in 2012, but that could be reduced to $3 billion or less if Teva wins the case and launches its generic within a year, according to Gilbert.

Lexapro is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in adults.