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Sanofi to make generic Lipitor

Sanofi is to launch a generic version of Pfizer's blockbuster anticholesterol Lipitor, which is due to lose patent protection in 2012

Sanofi is to launch a generic version of Pfizer's blockbuster anticholesterol Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) according to a report by French newspaper Les Echos that cites two sources involved in the matter.

The sources suggest that Sanofi may even be allowed to manufacture commercial lots of atorvastatin before full European patent protection is lost on May 7, 2012.

The agreement would be part of France's Strategic Council of Health Industries (CSIS) programme.

The programme offers tax rebates to the company who holds the rights to the original drug, in this case Pfizer, if production of its generic alternative is based in France.

Lipitor's patent was extended from November 2011 by six months in Europe due to the launch of a new version of the drug for children.

Generic versions of the drug are already available in certain countries including Spain, Brazil and Mexico, with Lipitors second quarter sales down from $2.81bn in 2010 to $2.59bn in 2011.

The Sanofi story comes the day after Dr Reddy's Laboratories announced it had settled a lawsuit with Pfizer regarding its plan to launch its own generic version of the drug.

Dr. Reddy's filed for approval of a generic version of Lipitor in 2009, with Pfizer claiming this infringed on the patents supporting Lipitor.

Other companies with generic versions of Lipitor lined up include Mylan, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Teva Pharmaceutical and Watson Pharmaceuticals.

1st September 2011

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