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US Supreme Court rejects Teva challenge to $235 million GSK award in patent dispute

The logo of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is seen during a news conference in Tel Aviv

By Blake Brittain

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc's challenge to a $235 million award to GlaxoSmithKline LLC in a patent dispute over generic drugs involving a heart medication.

The justices turned away Israel-based Teva's appeal of a lower court's ruling reinstating the jury award for U.K.-based GSK. The case involves "skinny labels," which allow generic drugmakers to avoid patent lawsuits if a generic drug's label omits potentially infringing uses of a brand-name drug.

GSK sued Teva in Delaware federal court in 2014 over its generic version of GSK's heart drug Coreg. Teva argued that it followed U.S. Food and Drug Administration instructions to "carve out" from its label a patented method for using the drug to treat heart failure.

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A jury awarded GSK $235 million in 2017. A judge then overturned the verdict, but the patent-focused U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reinstated it in 2020. The Federal Circuit affirmed after a rehearing last year that Teva's label, combined with its marketing materials, encouraged doctors to prescribe the generic in a way that constituted patent infringement.

Teva, in its appeal, told the Supreme Court that the ruling would cause "havoc" and discourage the use of skinny labels, which it said are "extraordinarily common" and "save patients and the federal government billions."

President Joe Biden's administration also urged the Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing that the Federal Circuit's decision created "significant uncertainty" for generic drugmakers.

GSK responded in a court brief that the case "presents no threat to generic companies who operate properly under the law."

A Teva spokesperson said the company was disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision but has other defenses it will present at the Delaware court.

A GSK spokesperson said the company was pleased with the decision.

(Reporting by Blake Brittain; Additional reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)