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INTERVET/Schering-Plough Animal Health have claimed victory in a legal battle with rival pharmaceutical company Pharmaq over patents for Pancreatic Disease (PD) vaccines.

Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health’s NORVAX® Compact PD, an inactivated virus vaccine against PD for intraperitoneal injection in Atlantic salmon, is the only approved vaccine against this devastating disease that is available on the market today.

In 2009 the Norwegian pharmaceutical company Pharmaq AS initiated an Oslo District Court action against Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health to either declare the NORVAX patent (NO 317.547) invalid or to obtain a decision of non-infringement of this patent. Yesterday the Oslo District Court ruled that the Pancreatic Disease (PD) patent NO 317.547 is valid and is being infringed by Pharmaq AS.

This new ruling by the Oslo District Court confirms a 2008 decision by the Norwegian Patent Office on the validity of the same patent which also decided in Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health’s favour.

In 2009 Pharmaq AS also filed a request for a compulsory license concerning the PD vaccine with the Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA). This request has been refused after which Pharmaq AS has appealed this decision. The outcome of this appeal is expected in the course of 2010.

Morten Nordstad, managing director of Pharmaq expressed his disappointment at the court ruling, saying that Norwegian fish farmers will lose most. He said: “We have succeeded in developing a more effective PD vaccine for salmon than is currently on the market which shows improved growth and less side effects. It is regrettable that now we can’t bring the product into use.”

He added that PHARMAQ will study the verdict from the Oslo District Court and take a position on a possible appeal however if the verdict is upheld, it will maintain Intervet/Schering Plough’s monopoly on solutions for PD virus.

Bernt Martinsen, head of customer service and clinical research in PHARMAQ explained: “PHARMAQ has continued a successful vaccine project over a three year period including work on a single component-PD vaccine and a seven component vaccine. The results of this work would undoubtedly have been a positive contribution to Norwegian fish farming.”

Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health say they remain committed to the development of efficacious and safe vaccines of high quality against infectious disease in aquatic animals, supporting fish farmers all over the world.

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