Zentiva, the generic drug making arm of global pharmaceutical company Sanofi, has won a licence allowing it to produce Pfizer’s hugely popular cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor.
Pfizer is set to lose the exclusive patent rights to Lipitor on 7 May 2012, enabling generic drug companies to reproduce its active ingredient atorvastatine after that date.
However, French newspaper Les Echos is today reporting generic versions could be made available in France before Pfizer’s patent expires.
Pfizer has already lost exclusive rights to the drug in Spain, Brazil, Canada and Mexico.
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The deal has been agreed as part of the Strategic Council of Health Industries (CSIS) programme in France, where Lipitor is known under the brand name of Tahor.
This sees drugmakers receive a tax break for allowing cheaper, generic copies of its branded drugs to be made once it has lost the patents.
France’s CSIS programme is geared towards retaining production sites and employment in the country.
Sanofi is making a conscious effort to make generic drugs one of its main focuses, as it too is set to lose exclusive rights to some of its own pharmaceuticals.
This move by Pfizer comes just after the company settled a lawsuit with Indian pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy’s, which in 2009 tried to create a generic version of Lipitor.
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