Pfizer has recorded another victory in its battle with India’s Ranbaxy to protect its patents on the blockbuster cholesterol-lowerer Lipitor, this time in Ireland.

The New York-based drugs giant says that the High Court in Dublin has ruled that the basic patent covering atorvastatin - the active ingredient in Lipitor - would be infringed by a competitor product manufactured by Ranbaxy. The decision, which is subject to a possible appeal, prevents the Indian drugmaker from launching its version before the basic Lipitor patent expires in November 2011.

Pfizer general counsel Allen Waxman said that the decision “is yet another affirmation of the strength of the intellectual property behind Lipitor,” adding that “it also is an important outcome for Pfizer and other medical innovators who invest in high-risk research to develop life-saving medicines”.

The two firms have been backed in a global battle for the Lipitor patent. In May, Ranbaxy was boosted by a court decision which will allow the firm to market generic atorvastatin in Norway, and the Gurgaon-headquartered group actually launched a generic form of the drug in Denmark in February. However, the US firm managed to get a court injunction a couple of weeks later that led to the suspension of sales.

Nigeria court case adjourned until October

Sticking with Pfizer and a Nigerian court has adjourned until October a criminal case between the firm and the northern Kano state government, which is seeking $2 billion over allegations that a 1990s Pfizer study of the antibiotic Trovan (trovafloxacin) led to deaths and disabilities in children.

Presiding judge Shehu Atiku said the delay would allow the prosecution to serve a summons requiring Pfizer executives to appear in court when the trial resumes on October 3. Kano state has also launched a separate civil case, which will be heard locally on July 30 and that hearing does not require the executives to be present as long as they are represented by lawyers. The Nigerian federal government has filed a third suit in the capital of Abuja, seeking damages of $7 billion.