THOUSAND OAKS – Amgen Inc., the world’s biggest biotechnology company, said Wednesday that it has sued three units of Roche Holding AG, claiming patent infringement of its popular anti-anemia drug Epogen. The suit was filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Boston against F. Hoffmann-LaRoche Ltd., Roche Diagnostics GmbH and Hoffmann-LaRoche Inc. It alleges that the units of the Basel, Switzerland-based company poached six patents related to the manufacture of Epogen, which Amgen developed and replicates as erythropoietin, a glycoprotein secreted by the kidneys that stimulates the production of red blood cells. Epogen, based on work by Amgen researcher Dr. Fu-Kuen Lin, now retired, is given to patients with kidney failure and those on dialysis. Amgen said the Roche units are importing an anti-anemia product called CERA that contains a product covered by its patents. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Thousand Oaks-based Amgen is seeking a permanent injunction blocking this Roche foray into the domestic marketplace. The company declined comment on why the suit was filed in Boston. “I really can’t comment on litigation strategy,” Amgen spokeswoman Mary Klen said in a statement. Roche, in an e-mail, said it had not seen the suit. “We are confident that CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator) does not infringe any of Amgen’s U.S. patents … Moreover, the U.S. patent office thoroughly examined the patentability of CERA and concluded that CERA is a novel molecule that is patentable in its own right,” the statement said. Its patent was issued in June 2003. Amgen has already prevailed in two other patent-infringement suits involving Epogen. The latest came in October of last year when a federal court judge in Boston ruled in Amgen’s favor in its patent dispute with Transkaryotic Therapies Inc. and Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. At that time, Amgen said the ruling confirmed the strength of its patent rights. Shiv S. Kapoor, a biotech analyst at Montgomery & Co. in San Francisco, said Amgen has a good reason to aggressively protect Epogen. “It’s a big threat,” he said of possible competition from Roche. Epogen accounts for about 30 percent of Amgen’s total sales, although that is expected to decline to about 26 percent in four years. Roche, if it beats back the Amgen challenge, could snare about $1 billion of Amgen’s sales by 2010, he said. Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!