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Drug maker AstraZeneca PLC said Tuesday that it is suing Indian rival Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. over a patent challenge to one of its key pharmaceuticals. The Anglo-Swedish company said it filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey against Ranbaxy for “willful infringement” of the substance patent that protects its high-selling Nexium medicine, which is used for treating persistent heartburn caused by acid reflux disease. The lawsuit is a response to an application filed by Ranbaxy with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to manufacture 20 milligram and 40 milligram versions of Nexium, challenging patents that are due to expire in 2018. “AstraZeneca has full confidence in and will continue vigorously to defend and enforce its intellectual property rights protecting Nexium,” the company said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange. The lawsuit is the second filed by AstraZeneca this month against patent challenges. It filed a similar claim in the same court against Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. over its schizophrenia treatment Seroquel. Teva has applied with the FDA to market a generic version of a 25 milligram tablet version of the drug before AstraZeneca’s patent expires in 2011. Nexium and Seroquel are among AstraZeneca’s five top-selling drugs, along with Crestor, Symbicort and Arimidex. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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