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Pfizer Holds Onto Lipitor Cash Machine Until 2010

The mega-drugmaker Pfizer sidestepped another opportunity to lose its exclusive stranglehold on the useless statin Lipitor last week when a U.S. Appeals court denied a request from India-based Ranbaxy Laboratories to produce a generic version of the world''s best selling drug.

And, Pfizer claims it may take years to fix a "technical defect" on a second Lipitor patent, involving the calcium salt contained in Lipitor. This unsuccessful decision is among the latest as Ranbaxy, India''s largest drug company, challenges drug patents all over Europe.

Ranbaxy allots an estimated $25 million per year toward legal expenses, including patent challenges, a drop in the bucket when you consider the market for U.S. generic drugs is expected to grow to $45 billion next year. Keeping up the legal fight is just as important for Pfizer, considering sales plunged 44 percent on four major medicines it produced last year after losing their exclusivity in the United States.

Just remember, you don''t need a worthless statin drug to lower your cholesterol if you follow these steps:

BusinessWeek Online October 23, 2006

New York Times October 24, 2006 Registration Required

MSNBC October 25, 2006