Pfizer on Friday fended off generic competition for Lipitor, its biggest drug, in a bellwether case that has wide-ranging implications for the pharmaceutical industry.
Lipitor, a cholesterol treatment, is free of generic competition until 2011 after Pfizer won the critical US patent trial.
In a long-awaited ruling, a US federal judge on Friday upheld Pfizer’s two main patents for Lipitor, defeating a challenge by Indian generic drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories. The decision is the latest defeat for Ranbaxy, which also lost in UK court where a key Lipitor patent was also upheld in October.
The fight over the world’s best-selling medicine was closely watched not only for the future of Pfizer, but for the overall threat to big drugmakers from aggressive generic compeition. Lipitor has about about $12bn in annual sales, and a sudden loss of its patent could have left investors wary of the prospects of lesser drugs standing up to patent fights.