JULY 26, 2001
14:09 EDT Wednesday
Cambridge-based Biogen Inc., maker of the top- selling multiple sclerosis drug Avonex, will likely file a lawsuit against Serono SA to prevent the company from claiming that its rival medicine works better than Avonex and may seek damages.
Biogen expects a Geneva court to decide the week of Aug. 20 whether to keep an injunction in place. Regardless of the hearing, Biogen would have to file suit to get a permanent injunction.
The disagreement stems from a study conducted by Serono, Europe's biggest biotechnology company, that it says shows Rebif works better than Avonex. Biogen is disputing the results and trying to keep Serono from claiming that Rebif better prevents relapses and reduces lesions on the brain.
The Swiss company needs to convince U.S. regulators that its drug is better than Avonex to win entry into the $1.1 billion American market for MS medicines. Otherwise, Biogen has marketing rights until 2003 that prevent the introduction of Rebif.