Lipitor is No. 1, but faces generic threat

When does good news feel almost bad? When a blockbuster drug is deemed the juiciest on the market--but the wolves are circling.

If this sounds like Lipitor to you, you're right. Today, the Pfizer drug was declared number one in the U.S. market with $9 billion in 2004 sales (rival Zocor pulled a trailing second with $4.7 billion). Also today--as if to emphasize the possible loss of this multibillion-dollar revenue stream--a Canadian court denied Pfizer's request to stop Indian generics maker Ranbaxy Laboratories from making one form of the drug.

Ranbaxy, of course, is the company that successfully challenged the drug's U.S. patent last year. Pfizer subsequently applied for a reissued patent, which would protect its exclusive rights to Lipitor through 2011. The company was denied (but not conclusively; the patent office called it a "non-final" rejection). No doubt Pfizer will continue building up its Lipitor defenses--but the generics makers will continue to circle, too.

- see Pfizer's release
- and Rabaxy's release
- read more on drug-sales rankings

ALSO: At this week's Bear Stearns Healthcare Conference, Pfizer told analysts that its future rests with biologics. Article

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