Watson challenges patent on cancer drug Velcade

PARSIPPANY, N.J. (AP) -- Watson Pharmaceuticals is challenging the patent on a bone marrow cancer drug made by Millennium Pharmaceuticals.

Watson's Actavis division asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve a generic version of the drug Velcade, which is used to treat multiple myeloma. One of the companies that markets the drug has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Watson, and as a result, the FDA won't approve Watson's generic for 30 months, or until the litigation is resolved.

Watson said U.S. sales of Velcade, or bortezomib, totaled $740 million over the 12 months ended Oct. 31. The drug is marketed in the U.S. by Millennium, a unit of Japanese drugmaker Takeda. Johnson & Johnson sells Velcade in other markets. Watson said Millennium filed the patent infringement lawsuit.

Shares of Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. rose 5 cents to $89.26 in morning trading.