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Court upholds Allergan Lumigan patents, shares rise 6 percent

By Deena Beasley

SAN FRANCISCO Jan 14 (Reuters) - A Texas judge has upheld U.S. patents covering Allergan Inc's Lumigan glaucoma drug through 2027, the company said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday, helping to send its shares up 6 percent.

Separately on Tuesday, Allergan, which also makes wrinkle-fixing Botox, said it had been issued a new U.S. patent, expiring in 2024, covering its Restasis eye drops.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled in favor of Allergan in a patent infringement case filed against several drugmakers seeking to market generic versions of the 0.1 percent formulation of Lumigan.

That formulation of the drug was introduced in 2010 to replace a stronger 0.3 percent solution that caused some patients to temporarily experience red eyes.

"We believe with these two developments, the two biggest overhangs to the Allergan story will be removed," BMO Capital Markets analyst David Maris said in a research note.

Allergan Chief Executive Officer David Pyott, in comments e at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, said the Texas court decision upholds Allergan's five Lumigan patents through 2027, but "of course this will get appealed."

He added that Allergan can maintain exclusivity of the drug as long as one of the patents is ultimately upheld.

Pyott said Allergan is unaware of whether any generic drugmakers have sought U.S. regulatory approval to sell copies of Restasis.

Sales of Allergan's eye care pharmaceuticals totaled $2.12 billion in the first nine months of last year.

Pyott said Allergan, which last year spent $1 billion to acquire MAP Pharmaceuticals and its Levadex experimental migraine drug, remains interested in acquiring new companies or products, particularly in areas like neurology and urologics, where it is not already a dominant player.

"In opthalmics and medical aesthetics, everyone already comes to us," he said.

Allergan is not interested in adding slow-growth segments to its product mix, he said, adding that any deal "would have to have the potential for double-digit growth."

Shares of Allergan, based in Irvine, California, rose $6.80, or 6 percent, to close at $121.22 on the New York Stock Exchange.