What the Appeal was about
The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co ("Lilly") has developed a drug called pemetrexed which it markets under the brand name Alimta for the treatment of various types of cancer. Used on its own, pemetrexed has unpleasant side effects that can sometimes be fatal but these can be avoided when it is administered as a compound called pemetrexed disodium in combination with vitamin B12.
The use of pemetrexed disodium in the manufacture of a medicament for use in combination with vitamin B12 (and, optionally, folic acid) for the treatment of cancer is monopolized in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and a number of other European countries by European patent number No 1 313 508. There are also corresponding patents for the same invention in many other countries around the world.