A federal judge this week invalidated the University of Rochester's patent for cox-2 inhibitors in a ruling that handed the makers of Celebrex an early victory in a fight closely watched by academic researchers across the country.

US District Judge for Western New York David G. Larimer dismissed UR's complaint, reasoning that the description of the discovery in the school's patent was too generic to support an infringement claim against makers of the class of drugs known as cox-2 inhibitors. Celebrex, the best seller in the crowd, pulled in $1.5 billion in 1999, its first year on the market, and is expected to generate billions more in coming years.

Pharmacia Corp., maker of Celebrex, hailed the court decision, saying it confirmed the company's position that UR had nothing to do with the invention of the blockbuster arthritis medication and was not entitled to royalties from it.

GD Searle and...

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