Amylin Sues Eli Lilly, Arguing Breach of Contract in Marketing Rival Diabetes Drug

5/16/11Follow @xconomy

[Updated: 8:55 am PT] Amylin Pharmaceuticals is hauling one of its big partners, Eli Lilly, into court.

San Diego-based Amylin (NASDAQ: AMLN) said today it has filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for Southern California, that accuses Lilly of anticompetitive behavior and violating a 2002 agreement between the companies that covers the marketing of exenatide (Byetta) for patients with diabetes.

The tension arises from Lilly’s relationship with a new partner, Boehringer Ingelheim. Lilly formed that deal back in January (a few months after the FDA delayed approval of a much-anticipated once-weekly version of Amylin’s exenatide called Bydureon). Boehringer Ingelheim’s once-daily pill, linagliptin (Tradjenta), was approved by the FDA earlier this month. Each of the products angles for a piece of the massive market for treating the more than 25 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes.

Amylin is asking the court to provide a preliminary and permanent injunction to block Lilly from helping sell linagliptin, which it says is a direct competitor with Amylin’s exenatide products.

“Amylin selected Lilly as a partner to promote development and maximize sales of Amylin’s exenatide products. We are disappointed that we could not resolve this matter amicably and that we were forced to bring legal action to protect our rights, our products and our shareholders,” Amylin said in a statement. “Amylin is committed to exenatide, a franchise that we believe provides important treatment options for the millions of patients around the world with type 2 diabetes. Notwithstanding this litigation, we intend to continue to collaborate with Lilly in the development and commercialization of exenatide products.”

[Updated comment from Lilly] Lilly said in a statement, picked up by the Associated Press, that the lawsuit is without merit, and the company will “vigorously defend its position.” The company also said it remains committed to its partnership with Amylin.


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