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Court Blocks Generic Lipitor

Pfizer fights off a challenge in a Canadian court.
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Pfizer (PFE) said the Canadian Federal Court in Toronto has granted its request to stop Novopharm from launching a generic version of Lipitor until its patent expires in July 2010.

The decision is subject to appeal, Pfizer said Friday. Novopharm is part of Israel-based generic-drug maker



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"Patents like this one provide the incentive to develop new, life-saving medicines that benefit millions of patients globally, and Pfizer will continue to vigorously defend its intellectual property rights wherever they are challenged," Pfizer General Counsel Allen Waxman said in a statement.

Lipitor has faced patent challenges in a number of countries, and Pfizer certainly has an interest in keeping competitors away from its prized franchise. Lipitor is the world's best-selling prescription drug, and this year it's expected to have sales of around $13 billion, meaning it accounts for about one-quarter of Pfizer's overall revenue.

Plus, last weekend Pfizer said it would stop its research and development work on a drug it hoped would be the eventual successor to Lipitor because of safety concerns.

Shares of Pfizer were edging down 3 cents at $24.83.