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U.S. court lifts block on competitor to AstraZeneca's Nexium

LONDON (Reuters) - A U.S. court has lifted a temporary block stopping South Korea's Hanmi Pharmaceutical from launching a close relative of AstraZeneca's Nexium stomach-acid drug in the United States.

AstraZeneca said on Wednesday that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had removed the temporary injunction on Hanmi's esomeprazole strontium product that had been imposed last month while a legal dispute continues.

Britain's second-biggest drugmaker has accused Hanmi of patent infringement by developing the rival drug, which is not chemically identical to Nexium and would not be automatically substitutable for Nexium at pharmacies.

Nexium is set to lose U.S. patent protection in 2014.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)

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