Merck wins suit blocking generic cholesterol drugs

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (AP) — Drugmaker Merck & Co. has won two patent infringement lawsuits against a generic drugmaker seeking to make copycat versions of its lucrative cholesterol pills, Zetia and Vytorin.

Merck says U.S. District Judge José Linares in Newark, N.J., ruled Friday against Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Both lawsuits concern the patent for ezetimibe, Zetia's active ingredient and a part of Vytorin, which also includes generic Zocor. That's an older Merck cholesterol pill that works differently.

The judge ruled the patent, which runs until April 2017, is valid, so Mylan cannot make generic versions of the drugs until then.

In the first quarter, Zetia had sales of $614 million and Vytorin dipped to $444 million. Together, they had 2011 sales of $4.3 billion.

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