Certainly breaking news!! For those coming in late on this (in true Phantom style), Ranbaxy challenged Pfizer’s 10 billion anti-cholestrol dollar drug (Lipitor) patent, arguing that it was invalid. It was succesful in Austria but lost just yesterday in the UK. A decision is awaited in the US, which incidentally is the main market and where experts expect Pfizer to win (not too surprising, since the US is more pro-patent than is the UK). The UK loss is therefore a surprising one and seems to have upset the stock market –as Ranbaxy prices had shot up in anticipation of a victory a few days back. Ranbaxy will certainly appeal, and if unsuccesful, this will prove a very big blow to Ranbaxy and its aggressive patent challenge strategies. I’m yet to read the decision–and will post futher details and commentary once this is out.
The main impetus for these kinds of law suits is the Hatch Waxman Act. an US legislation that encourages generics to challenge drug patents–if they are succesful, they get a marketing exclusivity for 180 days. I’ll do a fuller commentary once the decision is out.