Landmark patent infringement ruling by Federal Court on Merck's drug lovastatin

Date Closed

December 22, 2010

Lead Office


On December 22, 2010, in a highly anticipated landmark ruling of the Federal Court, the Canadian patent covering Merck's blockbuster drug lovastatin was found to have been valid and infringed by Canadian generic drug giant Apotex Inc. and its Winnipeg affiliate, Apotex Fermentation Inc.  Lovastatin was the first-in-class cholesterol-lowering statin prescribed to countless Canadians as MEVACOR(r).  Its discovery enabled the development of all the statins that would come later as brands like LIPITOR(r) and ZOCOR(r). In this case that took thirteen years to get to trial, multiple infringements were established based on clandestine manufacturing operations in Guangdong province, China, where most of the infringing lovastatin was made. The Court found infringement on the fabrication of testimony from witnesses in charge of the Guangdong operation, circumstantial evidence of motive, means and opportunity to infringe, as well as CSI-like DNA evidence.

McCarthy Tétrault LLP successfully represented Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. and Merck & Co., with a team led by Andrew Reddon.