Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pfizer beats Ranbaxy over Lipitor, again

Of the Lipitor patent battles, Reuters reports: Pfizer Inc. on June 28, 2006 said a British appellate court had upheld the main patent covering its top-selling cholesterol drug Lipitor, blocking India's Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. from launching a generic early. The ruling prohibits Ranbaxy from introducing a generic version of Lipitor in the United Kingdom before the expiration of the basic patent in November 2011, subject to a possible further appeal.

Although interesting, the story neglects to observe that the main threat to Pfizer's Lipitor is not Ranbaxy's efforts over the patents, but the passing of Zocor into off-patent status. Pfizer did a terrific job marketing Lipitor, which was NOT the first drug in the cholesterol-reducing family. HOWEVER, the Lipitor/Zocor story illustrates the DOWNSIDE when the first member of the class goes off-patent. Then, there is economic pressure from the health plans for use of the cheaper (now generic) drug, whose function is "good enough" for most uses. Now, if the thinking about "good enough" had been employed when Celebrex/Vioxx hit the market ...


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