Pfizer, Ranbaxy settle Lipitor patent dispute

Pfizer and Ranbaxy have come to an agreement that will end most of their five-year battle over the generic production of Lipitor, the world's best-selling drug. Ranbaxy will have a license to sell generic versions of Lipitor and Caduet in the U.S. effective November 30, 2011, and on varying dates in seven additional countries. Lipitor's patent expires in 2010, but two patents covering the production of the drug don't run out until 2016. Pfizer had argued in the past that Ranbaxy's plans to produce a generic version of the $10 billion-a-year drug violated those two patents. Under the agreement, Ranbaxy gets access to all the patents it need to product generic Lipitor. Ranbaxy will have exclusive rights to the generic drug for the first six months of its production.

"This agreement is a win-win-win because it is pro-patient, pro-competition and pro-intellectual property," said Ian Read, president of Worldwide Pharmaceutical Operations for Pfizer. "The agreement provides patients with access to a generic product much earlier than if Ranbaxy were unsuccessful in obtaining approval for its product and overcoming the relevant patents."

Daiichi Sankyo, of course, just made a $4.6 billion bid for Ranbaxy. Just one day after that deal was announced, reports circulated that Pfizer would consider a counter-offer, based partially on the fact that Ranbaxy was planning to launch a generic version on Lipitor.

- see this release for more
- here's the Wall Street Journal article