The Liposome Company Inc. said Tuesday it has sued VestarInc., alleging patent infringement by Vestar in selling aliposomal form of amphotericin B in Europe.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District ofDelaware, asks that Liposome receive Vestar's profits fromproduct sales and damages resulting from the infringement,tripled, with interest, The Liposome Company said.

The Princeton, N.J., company said it believes Vestar'sAmBisome violates The Liposome Company's patent for thedehydration of colloidal dispersions of liposomes.

Roger J. Crossley, Vestar's president and chief executive, saidVestar will fight the suit. "It's (AmBisome) been around a longtime and we never felt we were infringing," he told BioWorld.

Vestar of San Dimas, Calif., was assigned marketing rights forAmBisome in Europe in a dissolution of a joint venture lastAugust with Fujisawa USA Inc., which retained rights to theU.S. and Asian markets. AmBisome, as a second indication afterother therapies have failed, could reach annual sales of $70million in Europe, Crossley said. As a first-choice drug, he said,AmBisome's sales potential there would be $300 million.

Vestar has long been aware that its patent could be challenged."There's an element of relief that this thing is out in the open,"Crossley said.

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