Norwegian court rules against Pfizer in Lipitor patent disputes

A Norwegian court has ruled in favor of Ranbaxy Laboratories in two patent disputes involving Pfizer’s blockbuster Lipitor (atorvastatin), the world’s top selling Rx drug. Ranbaxy said, in a statement on its Web site that the city court in Oslo ruled its atorvastatin version does not infringe on two of Pfizer's Norwegian patents covering Lipitor. Pfizer said in a statement that the Norwegian court decision would have “no practical effect on the company's ability to protect Lipitor from the launch of a competitor generic product in Norway by Ranbaxy.” Ranbaxy is bound by a November 2005 Norwegian court ruling stating its atorvastatin product did infringe on a third Pfizer patent covering a particular intermediate compound of Lipitor. That patent is set to expire in 2009. Ranbaxy has appealed the decision. A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for next March. Pfizer's SVP, associate general counsel and chief of intellectual property Peter Richardson, said, “While we plan to appeal this decision, it's important to understand that Lipitor continues to be protected from generic competition in Norway through February 2009. In other major European markets Lipitor is protected by basic patents expiring in 2011.” Pfizer’s Lipitor is the world’s top-selling branded prescription medicine.  The cholesterol-lowering treatment raked in $12 billion in global sales in 2005.