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Boston Scientific told to pay $432m

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Associated Press / February 13, 2008

Boston Scientific Corp. was ordered to pay nearly $432 million in damages to a doctor who contends the medical device maker's drug-coated heart stents violate his 1997 patent.

The jury award in US District Court in Marshall, Texas, matches the amount of royalties that Dr. Bruce Saffran sought from sales of two Boston Scientific stents from 2004 through last September, said his attorney, Eric Albritton. The total reflects an 8 percent royalty on US sales and a 6 percent royalty on foreign sales, Albritton said.

The award covers Boston Scientific's top-selling product, the Taxus Express, sold in the United States since 2004 and now available globally, and the next-generation Taxus Liberte.

The Natick-based company said yesterday it would seek to overturn the verdict in post-trial motions.

Jurors reached the verdict after about two hours of deliberations Monday. The trial began a week earlier in the federal court's eastern Texas district, which is known for handling patent cases quickly.

Boston Scientific last week recorded a $365 million charge against its fourth-quarter earnings to cover potential losses due to patent litigation involving stents. The company doesn't intend to take an additional charge after the new verdict.

Shares of Boston Scientific rose 11 cents to $12.52. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $10.76 to $17.32 and lost about one-third of its value last year.

Heart stents are tiny, mesh-wire tubes that prop open coronary arteries after they have been surgically cleared of fatty plaque. Boston Scientific and a unit of Johnson & Johnson dominate the market for newer models coated with drugs to prevent post-surgical scar tissue from creating new blockages.

Saffran, a radiologist from Princeton, N.J., won a patent in 1997 involving a medicated fabric coating to help repair bone fractures. The technology included a method to release medication within the body that Saffran argued works in much the same way as stents' drug coatings.

A similar patent lawsuit that Saffran filed against Johnson & Johnson's Cordis Corp. unit, maker of the Cypher stent, is pending in the same court.

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