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Lopping three years off a patent to settle litigation doesn’t seem like the kind of strategy investors would applaud. But in December 2005, when Cephalon Inc. announced that as part of an agreement with four generic drugmakers it would shorten the lifespan of its best-selling drug Provigil, the pharmaceutical company’s stock price soared more than 70 percent. The move meant that Cephalon would forgo potential sales of $1 billion to $2 billion. In return, the company gained assurance that it could market Provigil, a sleep disorder drug, for six more years — without litigation.

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