By Matthew Willett

Genentech Inc. filed suit against Genzyme Corp. in U.S. District Court in Delaware in a patent/contract dispute related to TNKase (tenecteplase).

Sabrina Johnson, Genentech's director of corporate communications, confirmed that the company had filed a lawsuit, and added that Genentech is "looking forward to getting this resolved with Genzyme," but said the company would make no further comment concerning the case.

The case relates to U.S. Patent No. 5,344,733 held by Genzyme and licensed about 10 years ago to Genentech, said Caroline Copithorne, an analyst at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in San Francisco. "The thing that seems odd is that Genentech is suing Genzyme. It seems it's as much on the contract as on the patent."

Copithorne said there's nothing material for Genzyme related to the TNKase patent, and said Genzyme officials told her it was a "trivial" matter, saying, "If we should lose the suit, what's the down side for us?"

The original contract called for a 2 percent royalty payment to Genzyme, Copithorne said.

Genentech's TNKase, a single-bolus thrombolytic agent for treatment of acute myocardial infarction, was approved last year. (See BioWorld Today, June 6, 2000.)

In 2000 the company's cardiovascular products, TNKase and Activase, logged combined sales of $206.2 million, Genentech reported in January.

A Genzyme spokeswoman said Genzyme officials would have no comment at this time. n