Pfizer's Lipitor patent request rejected

Pfizer's request for a reissued Lipitor patent was stamped "Rejected" by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office--but the decision is only preliminary, so the drug maker can still hope for extended exclusivity on the blockbuster.

Lipitor's original patent was invalidated last year in federal court, after a challenge from Indian generics maker Ranbaxy Laboratories. A second patent remained in force, giving Pfizer U.S. exclusivity until 2010. The company is waiting for details about the patent office's preliminary rejection. So far, the agency hasn't explained why. But because the rejection isn't final, Pfizer can lobby for reconsideration. And the stakes are huge: Lipitor is the best-selling drug in the world, with $12.9 billion in 2006 sales.

- read the report from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

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