Pfizer looks to recoup billions in Neurontin sales

Pfizer finally has its chance to win its Neurontin money back. The drugmaker's longstanding lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Actavis Group, seeking to recover billions of dollars in generic sales, went to trial yesterday, and Pfizer's lawyers lost no time in claiming the two companies have been infringing a Neurontin patent for years.

"Teva and Ivax took Pfizer's product for themselves," attorney Jack Blumenfeld told the jury (as quoted by Bloomberg). "The result was that Pfizer lost billions of dollars, virtually overnight."

As the news service reports, generic copies of Neurontin have been on the market since 2004, based on a judge's ruling they didn't infringe Pfizer's patent. But a federal appeals court overturned that decision in 2007. And the latest trial has been brewing ever since.

The patent in question is a process patent Teva and Actavis claim is invalid. They say it is just a variation of already expired patents. And besides, they shouldn't have to repay Pfizer those billions because much of Neurontin's success has depended on the mammoth drugmaker's illegal, off-label marketing. Blumenfeld pooh-poohed that idea, saying the marketing infractions took place before 2004, so they shouldn't be an issue.

- read the Bloomberg coverage