London---World largest drug company Pfizer is celebrating and is excited as judge backs company of £7bn patent. It was a joyous moment for the drug company.
Pfizer, the world's biggest drug company, was yesterday celebrating after Indian rival Ranbaxy lost a court challenge over its best-selling drug that could have cost it billions in revenue.
A London judge ruled that, while one of the two patents that Ranbaxy was challenging on cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor was invalid, the main one was still workable.
This means that Ranbaxy, which makes drugs that have lost their patent exclusivity, cannot make a cheap version of the drug, which has sold more tablets than any other prescription product in history.
A spokesman for Ranbaxy said the company will appeal the decision, and added that it has no bearing on similar issues being debated in the US courts. It is by no means certain that the case will go the same way - Ranbaxy won a similar case in Austria, but Pfizer is appealing.
Pfizer's chairman, Hank McKinnell, hailed the court case as a victory for patent laws. "This is an important victory not only for Pfizer but for all innovators pursuing high-risk medical discoveries that benefit current and future generations of patients around the world," he said.
"Lipitor is one of the most important medical breakthroughs of our era, and millions of patients have used it to lower their cholesterol.
"This court decision is consistent with the fundamental principle that patent laws exist to support and encourage medical innovators, not undermine them."
[inline:1]Deutsche Bank estimates that losing the patent on Lipitor would cost Pfizer a fifth of its sales. The company is also trying to prolong the life of the drug by combining it with torcetrapib, which could increase levels of so-called "good" cholesterol, while Lipitor, which has the scientific name atorvastatin, decreases levels of "bad" cholesterol.
Pfizer wants to release the drug before patents on Lipitor expire in 2010 and 2011, thus protecting a product that earns it $12billion (£7billion) each year.
Drug companies spend large amounts of time in court defending their patents from generic companies, which thrive on making cheaper versions of the same drug. The Pfizer and Ranbaxy case was seen as a test by many, since it is a bold move on behalf of a generic company to attack the main patent on a drug.
The patent that has been declared invalid by the judge is on a calcium salt involved in atorvastatin. Pfizer is appealing the judge's decision.