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TEXT OF STORY
Scott Jagow: The world’s best selling drug is Lipitor. It’s for high cholesterol. Generic drug makers can’t wait to make their own version of Lipitor. And under a new agreement, a generic will be available . . . eventually. Janet Babin reports from our Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.
Janet Babin: India’s Ranbaxy Labs has been battling Lipitor’s patents in court for five years. The drug’s maker, Pfizer, has fought back to protect them.
Today, Pfizer announced that the two companies have reached a deal. Ranbaxy can begin selling a U.S. generic form of Lipitor by late 2011. Pfizer expected its Lipitor patent to expire around that time, but the deal does buy the company five extra months. That could help Pfizer manage the dramatic sales drop sure to follow the generic’s release.
But the settlement could anger patients. They’ll have to wait a few extra months for the cheaper generic that keeps their cholesterol on track.
Because Ranbaxy was first to challenge Pfizer’s patents, it alone will be able to sell the Lipitor generic for the first six months. After that, look out for a generic frenzy.
I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.
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