Pfizer sues Unilab over Lipitor drug

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tags: , , , — philippinetech @ 10:49 pm Edit This
Pfizer Philippines said it has filed a patent infringement suit against United Laboratories Inc. (Unilab) after the latter released a generic version of Atorvastatin, whose patent in the country is still held by the foreign pharmaceutical giant.
In a briefing on Friday, Patricia Pascual, Pfizer Inc. public affairs division director, said the company on October 6 filed the case at the Regional Trial Court of Makati.

“We only seek a level playing field and fair competition in the market and we would like due regard for the law and its processes [with] regard to IPR [intellectual property rights] protection in the country,” she said.

Pfizer sells the anti-hypertensive drug under the trade name Lipitor, and its generic name is atorvastatin calcium. Pascual said the patent of Lipitor in the Philippines will expire in 2012.

Unilab recently released its generic version of the medicine under the brand Avamax.

Pascual said Pfizer has also filed a similar case against the manufacturer of Ator tablets, also an Atorvastatin, which were released in the local market even before Avamax.

Unilab earlier filed an invalidation of patent suit against Pfizer before the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines).

The case is languishing at the IP Philippines.

Pascual said Lipitor is the most prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug in the country. She said the drug’s price has gone down by about 50 percent following the government’s imposition of the maximum retail drug price (MRDP), but Avamax is still 30-percent cheaper.

Citing the published IMS August 2009 data, Pascual said Unilab’s Therapharma Vidastat—with the generic name simvastatin—topped volume sales that month among anti-hypertensive medicines sold locally with a market share of 21 percent, followed by Lipitor at 19 percent.

She said latest data before the implementation of the MRDP shows that Unilab is the leading pharmaceutical company with a 16.3-percent share of the domestic market, while Pfizer comes in second with a 9.6-percent share.


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