A bid by Pfizer Inc. to win reissuance of a U.S. patent protecting its blockbuster Lipitor
cholesterol medicine has been rejected on a preliminary basis.
Should the ruling stand, Pfizer would face U.S. generic competition to Lipitor in March 2010, when
the basic patent for the drug expires, rather than in June 2011, when the patent at issue would
expire. A Pfizer spokesman confirmed the company had seen a posting on the U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office Web site of the non-final rejection but has not yet received a letter from the
patent office informing the company of the decision. Company spokesman Bryant Haskins said it is
not unusual in such situations for a company to receive an initial rejection from the patent
office only to later get the patent reissued. “This is not at all unusual,” Haskins said. “As soon
as we receive the information from the patent office, we will address the concerns.”
Pfizer’s sales for Lipitor, the world’s top-selling drug, reached $12.9 billion last year,
including $7.8 billion in the United States. Last August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Federal Circuit invalidated one of two Lipitor patents at issue in a legal fight with generic
competitor Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., moving up the patent expiration. Pfizer said the court had
invalidated the patent because of a “technical defect” and it would seek to correct the defect at
the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.