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Generic Lipitor launched in four EU markets

Ranbaxy brings its version of atorvastatin to Germany, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands after agreement with Pfizer

Ranbaxy Laboratories has launched its generic version of Pfizer's cholesterol lowering medication Lipitor (atorvastatin) in four major EU markets.

Ranbaxy's version of the statin, one of the world's biggest selling drugs, is now available in Germany, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands ahead of its European patent expiry in May.

It follows a 2008 settlement with Pfizer in which Ranbaxy gained rights to launch its generic atorvastatin before the drug loses exclusivity in return for ending its patent challenge. The Indian generics company, in which Daiichi Sankyo holds a majority stake, also has the rights to launch its version of atorvastatin early in Belgium.

Generic versions of atorvastatin in 10mg, 20 mg, 40mg and 80mg tablets will be marketed in Italy, Sweden and Germany, while the Netherlands will have access to all dosage forms except the 80mg tablet.

The introduction of cheaper generic Lipitor will take a large chunk off Pfizer's sales in each country. According to Ranbaxy the drug is the largest selling pharmaceutical product in Italy with annual sales of $377m, while revenues in the Netherlands and Sweden are $164.4m and $55m respectively.

The German version of atorvastatin, which Pfizer markets under the brand name Sortis, will be sold by Ranbaxy's subsidiary Basics GmbH, with marketing assistance provided by Daiichi Sankyo's German division.

Sales of Lipitor have already fallen dramatically following the launch of Ranbaxy's generic product in the US in November, 2011.

Fourth quarter US revenues for the drug dropped by 42 per cent between 2010 and 2011 to $816m after just one month of generic competition.

This was despite increased efforts from Pfizer to tap into brand loyalty to keep doctors prescribing Lipitor.

The early European launches will be a useful filip for Ranbaxy's revenues as the company comes to the end of its 180-day exclusivity period to sell generic atorvastatin in the US. From the end of May other firms will be able to enter the market with their own products, hitting both Pfizer and Ranbaxy's revenues.

6th March 2012

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