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Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology companies Genzyme Corp. and Biogen Idec Inc. have settled their lawsuit against Columbia University over the school’s rights to royalties on drug-making research from the 1970s. Neither company nor the New York City university provided financial details of the settlement over the companies’ claims that the university tried to illegally extend lucrative patents that had expired. But Genzyme and Biogen Idec said the agreement will allow them to continue selling drugs to treat multiple sclerosis and Gaucher disease based on Columbia-developed technology. Biogen Idec spokesman Jose Juves said Thursday that his firm was “very pleased” by the settlement, which bars the parties from discussing the terms. The settlement was disclosed in an order dated Tuesday from Boston-based U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf. In November, Wolf dismissed most of the companies’ claims after Columbia dropped its demands for additional royalties beyond the hundreds of millions of dollars it had already earned from research by Columbia professor Richard Axel, a Nobel Prize winner last year. Axel created a way to splice bits of DNA into living cells to create human proteins, a technique vital to drug manufacturing for which Columbia’s patents had expired in 2000. Biogen Idec, Genzyme and others sued Columbia in 2002 after the school won a new patent for proteins derived from Axel’s research and sought additional royalties. With the lawsuit settled, the battle over Columbia’s rights to the technology now rests with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Two California-based biotechnology companies that sued Columbia over similar issues, Genentech Inc. and Amgen Inc., are also moving toward settlements in federal court in Boston, the Globe reported, citing legal filings and Columbia’s attorney. Officials at Amgen and Genentech did not immediately return calls Thursday. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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