U.S. court denies Amylin request in Lilly dispute

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. federal court declined to prevent Eli Lilly & Co’s diabetes sales force from marketing a potential rival to a drug it already sells with Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc .

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California vacated a temporary restraining order and denied a request by Amylin for a preliminary injunction, Lilly said Wednesday.

At the heart of the dispute is a Lilly agreement with German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim to co-develop five diabetes medicines, including one that could become a competitor to Byetta, a medicine Lilly co-markets with Amylin.

Amylin last month sued its much larger long-time diabetes drug partner, asserting that the Lilly deal with Boehringer violated contractual agreements. Amylin said it wanted to keep Lilly from using the same sales force to sell both Byetta and the potential rival drug, linaglipton.

Amylin said it was disappointed with the ruling but noted that the court decision does not address the merits of its claims, which it intends to pursue through its lawsuit against Lilly.

“Amylin continues to believe that Lilly’s conduct violates our diabetes collaboration agreements, is anti-competitive and limits patients’ treatment options,” the company said in a statement.

Amylin and Lilly became partners on Byetta through a deal struck in 2002. The companies would also co-market Bydureon, a longer acting version of Byetta currently being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which had previously delayed an approval decision on the medicine.

“We have complied with our contractual obligations under our agreements with Amylin, and done so in a manner fully consistent with all applicable laws,” Robert Armitage, general counsel for Eli Lilly, said in a statement announcing the court ruling.

“We believe that Amylin’s allegations against Lilly are entirely without merit and we fully expect to prevail in this litigation,” Armitage added. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Carol Bishopric)