Wellbutrin maker shares badly depressed

Aug. 2, 2006 at 1:18 PM
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MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Trading in Biovail Corp., a Canadian drugmaker, was halted Wednesday after the share price collapsed on an adverse ruling in a U.S. patent dispute.

A California judge Tuesday ruled that Anchen Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s planned generic version of Wellbutrin XL, an anti-depressant, does not infringe Biovail's patent, the CBC reported. That sent Biovail shares down 5 percent Tuesday and another 17 percent Wednesday, before trading was halted on the New York and Toronto exchanges.

In response, Biovail said it would ask the judge to reconsider and appeal, if necessary, the National Post reported. Wellbutrin XL accounted for half the company's profits last year.

The market was expecting a generic version of Wellbutrin XL to come to market in late 2007 or early 2008, but the California ruling could result in such sales before year-end. Tuesday's ruling appears also to have killed hopes that Biovail could settle with Anchen, which now has a court ruling in its arsenal.

The stop-trading order comes two days after the Ontario Securities Commission accused Biovail Chairman Eugene Melnyk of failing to report insider trades of company shares.

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