Bayer wins end to Yaz contraceptive lawsuit

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bayer AG <BAYGn.DE> won the dismissal on Wednesday of U.S. antitrust claims by Sandoz Inc over Bayer's popular Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills, the final claims in the three-year-old Manhattan case.

U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe said Sandoz failed to show that Bayer monopolized the U.S. oral contraceptive market, citing evidence Germany's largest drugmaker had a 29 percent share, below the 50 percent Sandoz estimated.

"Sandoz's allegations concerning its attempted monopolization claim are conclusory and speculative," he wrote.

Gardephe also said Sandoz, a unit of Switzerland's Novartis AG <NOVN.VX>, did not make sufficient allegations to show there was no combination of drugs to serve as a "functional substitute" for Yaz or Yasmin to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder and related symptoms such as premenstrual syndrome.

The judge dismissed Sandoz's antitrust claims under the Sherman Act and said Sandoz cannot bring them again.

Exactly one year earlier, on September 28, 2010, Gardephe had dismissed Bayer's patent claims against Sandoz and Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc <WPI.N>, which were seeking to market generic versions of Yasmin.

Neither Novartis, nor its lawyers, nor Bayer's lawyers immediately responded to requests for comment.

Yaz has long been one of the largest-selling birth control pills in the United States.

First-half sales worldwide for Yaz and the similar Yasmin and Yasminelle totaled 505 million euros ($686 million), down 12.3 percent from a year earlier, reflecting generic competition, Bayer said.

The case is Bayer Schering Pharma AG v. Sandoz Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Nos. 08-03710 and 08-08112.

(1 euro = US$1.358)

(Editing by Andre Grenon)