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Canadian court rules against Pfizer in Lipitor patent case
  04 January 2008
Pfizer has responded swiftly to a decision by a Canadian federal court to deny its request to prevent the launch of a generic form of its cholesterol-lowerer Lipitor and announced plans to appeal.
The court has ruled in favour of Canadian generic drugmaker Apotex and turned down Pfizer's bid to stop the Toronto-headquartered firm from launching its own version of Lipitor (atorvastatin) prior to the expiry of the drug giant's enantiomer, or calcium salt, patent in July 2010. An appeal will now be made and Pfizer added that the decision would have no immediate commercial impact because Lipitor is protected by other patents in Canada, which are also subject to pending legal challenges.
The ruling by the federal court has no impact on Lipitor patent litigation in other countries, Pfizer concluded. The company has been battling, mostly successfully, all over the world to defend its patents on Lipitor, sales of which declined 5% to $3.17 billion for the third quarter, as doctors switched patients to generic versions of Merck & Co's similar drug Zocor (simvastatin).
Pfizer to Appeal Canadian Court Ruling on Generic Lipitor Sales
By Joe Schneider
Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Pfizer Inc. said it will appeal a Canadian court ruling allowing Apotex Inc. to sell a generic version of the cholesterol drug Lipitor, which accounted for $12.9 billion in 2006 sales, or 27 percent of Pfizer's revenue.
The Canadian Federal Court denied Pfizer's request to bar Apotex from selling a Lipitor knockoff before a key patent expires in 2010, Pfizer said in a statement. A copy of the court ruling wasn't immediately available.
``Lipitor is protected by other patents'' so the ruling won't affect sales in Canada, Chris Loder, a spokesman for New York-based Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, said in a telephone interview.
Pfizer may lose half its sales in the next five years as Lipitor, the world's best-selling drug, and other products lose patent protection. Third-quarter sales of Lipitor fell 3 percent from a year earlier to $3.2 billion, as patients switched to generic copies of Merck & Co.'s similarly acting Zocor.
Other cholesterol-reducing drugs include AstraZeneca PLC's Crestor and Bristol-Meyer Squibb Co.'s Pravachol.
The Canadian Federal Court ruled in September that Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.'s generic version of Lipitor would infringe Pfizer's patent covering a crystalline form of atorvastatin and said the Indian company can't introduce it until 2016.
In the same ruling, the Federal Court denied Pfizer's request for a prohibition order in connection with a second patent covering a process for making atorvastatin, the active ingredient in Lipitor.
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