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Drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC said Wednesday that it has filed a lawsuit in a U.S. court against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. over a patent challenge to one of its key drugs from its Israeli rival. The Anglo-Swedish company said it had begun action in U.S. District Court in New Jersey against Teva for “willful infringement” of the substance patent that protects its schizophrenia treatment Seroquel. The lawsuit is a response to an application filed by Teva in late September with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market a generic version of a 25 milligram tablet version of the drug in the United States before AstraZeneca’s patent expires in 2011. “AstraZeneca has full confidence in and will continue vigorously to defend and enforce its intellectual property rights protecting Seroquel,” the company said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange. Seroquel is not the only AstraZeneca drug under attack from generic drug makers. Indian drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. has applied to manufacture a copy of its Nexium medicine, which is used for treating persistent heartburn caused by acid reflux disease. Ranbaxy wants to manufacture 20mg and 40mg versions of Nexium, challenging patents that are due to expire in 2018. AstraZeneca, which is nearing the end of its 45-day period allotted by the U.S. FDA to file an infringement lawsuit against the Ranbaxy challenge, has not announced its plans. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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