The Helsinki Court of Appeal in Finland has issued a preliminary injunction against Ranbaxy Laboratories, prohibiting the company from selling a generic version of Pfizer's Lipitor. The court had earlier allowed Ranbaxy to continue sales of the generic drug and the new decision has come as a major set back in its legal challenge against Pfizer.
The news about the court decision was disclosed on the global website of Pfizer yesterday. Ranbaxy has not yet responded to the news.
The decision of the Court of Appeal can be challenged in the Supreme Court of Finland.
Lipitor is the brand used by Pfizer for the cholesterol lowering drug Atorvastatin, the single largest selling drug in the world with annual sales of around $12 billion. Pfizer managed to extend the original patent for the drug till the year 2009. Ranbaxy and some other generic manufacturers have been engaged in a prolonged legal battle against the patent extension.
Ranbaxy has had some early legal successes in Europe which helped the company to continue with sales of the generic version in select markets. A bitter legal battle is going on in the US and favourable verdicts in European countries would help the case of generic manufacturers in the key US market. It is in this context that the Finnish verdict may cause some concerns to Ranbaxy.
There are also unconfirmed reports that Ranabaxy is in negotiations to acquire drug companies in Romania. The company is reportedly trying to acquire Romanian companies like SIndan and Terapia, which are valued at around $150 million each.
Ranbaxy is trading at Rs454.5 (up 1.04 per cent) at 11.56 AM on the NSE today.