At long last, Ranbaxy gets OK on Lipitor copy

It came at the 11th hour, but it did come: Ranbaxy got FDA approval for its copy of Lipitor. The Indian company has now launched the drug, much to the relief, no doubt, of its majority owner, Daiichi Sankyo--and much to the surprise of many who have been following the company's saga of FDA troubles. Among the less pleased: Pfizer ($PFE), which is working every angle to keep a hold on Lipitor sales, and Watson Laboratories ($WPI), which launched an authorized generic yesterday.

The advent of Ranbaxy's atorvastatin turned investors giddy at first. Shares leapt as much as 11%, Reuters reports--at least until word broke that the company would be sharing its Lipitor profits with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA), at least for its first 6 months on the market. That put a damper on things, Dow Jones reports, prompting analysts to lower their expectations of a Lipitor lift for Ranbaxy earnings.

Neither Ranbaxy nor Teva disclosed the terms of their agreement--nor did they explain what, exactly, the Israeli generics giant is doing to earn that share. Analysts tell Reuters Teva probably is working on the marketing side, leveraging its sales-and-distribution network to spread Ranbaxy's version farther and wider than the Indian company could alone.

Another theorized Teva might supply Lipitor's ingredients, Bloomberg reports, leaving Ranbaxy to assemble the drug at Ohm Laboratories in New Jersey. Still another figures Teva stood as a backup in case Ranbaxy couldn't work out its differences with the FDA in time. "There is something more in this deal than meets the eye," Kotak Institutional Securities' Priti Arora told Bloomberg.

- get the release from Ranbaxy
- check out the Reuters report
- see the Dow Jones story
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