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AstraZeneca settles legal dispute with Watson

LONDON — The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has settled a patent dispute with Watson Laboratories Inc., removing a threat against its top-selling cholesterol drug, Crestor.

The deal is important to AstraZeneca, which has seen its business hurt as patents on its top-selling drugs expire, allowing­ generic drug makers to produce cheaper copies of the medicine and piggyback on the drug’s success.

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Watson and its parent company, EGIS, concede the Crestor patent is valid. The deal allows Watson to sell its generic drug for two months in 2016 before AstraZeneca’s exclusivity period ends, giving it a jump on other generic drug producers, who have to wait until July 8, 2016.

Watson also agreed not to challenge a federal court ruling that upheld the Crestor patent.

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