A Norwegian court has ruled that Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.'s generic version of Lipitor did not infringe Pfizer Inc.'s patents, paving the way for the Indian company to launch its product in the Scandinavian country, Ranbaxy said.
Pfizer said it would immediately seek to appeal the Oslo Court of Appeal's ruling on the cholesterol buster, the world's top-selling drug.
The court ruled that Pfizer's four patents are either invalid or not infringed upon by a proposed generic product from Ranbaxy, the companies said in separate statements.
Three patents covering intermediate compounds used to make atorvastatin, the active ingredient in Lipitor, would not be infringed by the sale of a Ranbaxy generic product in Norway, the appeals court ruled, Pfizer said.
Earlier, the Oslo City Court had ruled in favour of Ranbaxy's claim of non-infringement on two patents, but had denied another claim. Ranbaxy appealed against the ruling.
On Tuesday, the appeals court upheld the city court ruling on the two patents, overturned the adverse ruling and held that a process-related patent was also invalid.
The Supreme Court of Norway will determine whether to hear the appeal on the patents, which expire between February 2009 and July 2016, Pfizer said.
New York-based Pfizer has been defending its patents for Lipitor all around the globe, mainly against Ranbaxy.
Ranbaxy launched Lipitor's generic version in Denmark in February. But, a Danish court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the sale of the drug.
In October last year, a U.S. appeals court denied Ranbaxy's petition for rehearing of a decision upholding the exclusivity of Pfizer's main patent for atorvastatin.
However, in Canada, Pfizer's bid to block the sale of Lipitor's generic version was denied by its federal court. Pfizer had said it planned to appeal the decision.
(Reporting by Anup Roy in Bangalore)