Favorable Finding for Pfizer

The European Patent Office sides with Pfizer in an opinion on Lipitor.
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Pfizer

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edged lower even after the European Patent Office issued an opinion upholding a patent on its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor.

The office rejected arguments by India's

Ranbaxy

that a patent covering atorvastatin calcium, the active ingredient in Lipitor, is invalid for "lack of novelty" and "lack of inventive step," Pfizer said.

Shares of Pfizer fell 4 cents to $27.24.

The opinion was requested by a Spanish court hearing an infringement case filed by Ranbaxy against the pharmaceuticals giant. The office's statement will be considered among comments from several experts before a court decision is made, Pfizer said.

The European Patent Office opinion follows a decision

earlier this week by a U.S. federal appeals court not to review a previous ruling that granted a split decision on two Lipitor patents.

While the U.S. court supported Pfizer's general patent on the drug, it took Ranbaxy's side on the validity of the patent on the calcium salt in Lipitor.