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Pfizer files suit against Merck

Pfizer is to sue Merck over the company's plan to launch a Lipitor-plus-Zetia combination pill in the US

Pfizer is to sue Merck over the company's plan to launch a Lipitor-plus-Zetia combination pill in the US.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Pfizer has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, to block the drug's introduction for five years.

Cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor (atorvastatin), is one of Pfizer's biggest selling medicines and its patent is due to expire in the US by the end of November, 2011.

Merck is aiming to combine a generic version of Lipitor with its Zetia (ezetimibe) product, which also lowers cholesterol but by a different mechanism to Lipitor.

Both Ranbaxy Laboratories and Watson Laboratories are to launch a generic atorvastatin product on November 30, 2011, but Pfizer still holds some patents for Lipitor that do not expire for several years on which it is basing the Merck lawsuit.

13th October 2011

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