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Corporation Asserts Lack of Validity in University of Rochester Patent Challenge

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By News Release • • April 12, 2000

CHICAGO, April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- G.D. Searle & Co. disputes the validity of a University of Rochester patent issued yesterday covering COX-2 compounds. Asserting that the University's patent lacks novelty and enablement -- two requirements of U.S. patent law -- Searle officials expressed continued confidence in its COX-2 patent estate. The University patent is a method-of-treatment patent covering how to apply the concept in patients, in contrast to Searle's patent, which is a compound patent that specifically describes a molecule.

The University's patent lacks novelty because it is not a new invention, according to Searle patent lawyers, adding that a significant body of literature existed before the patent was filed in 1992 that described the potential benefits of treating people with COX-2 drugs. In lacking enablement, Searle maintains the patent fails to describe or teach, with any particularity, how to put the invention into practice. Searle holds that the sweeping nature of the University's patent in itself is one of its greatest flaws.

"We are disappointed to hear of this development from the media, rather than being contacted directly by the University of Rochester. Uncertainty in the market about such an important and beneficial pharmaceutical agent is not in anyone's best interest -- particularly arthritis patients," said Richard U. De Schutter, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Pharmacia Corporation, formed through the recent merger of Pharmacia & Upjohn with Monsanto, and its pharmaceutical division Searle. "We have complete confidence in our COX-2 patent estate and will vigorously defend against this challenge," he concluded.

Searle scientists, building on Dr. Philip Needleman's pioneering work while at Washington University, have been leaders in COX-2 technology since the 1980's. Dr. Needleman, Chief Scientific Officer for Searle and now Pharmacia, is widely acknowledged to be the first individual to have hypothesized the existence of two COX enzymes.

Source: Searle & Co.

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