Pfizer’s determination to defend its patents on the blockbuster cholesterol-lowerer Lipitor has been rewarded again with the news that a court in Denmark has blocked the sale of a generic version of the drug.

The New York-based drugs giant noted that the court has granted a preliminary injunction against Nomeco A/S, the largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in Denmark, that prohibits the sale of a generic version of Lipitor (atorvastatin) made by Ranbaxy Laboratories. The Indian drugmaker launched its generic form of atorvastatin in Denmark, the first western country to allow it, earlier this month.

The injunction, which is subject to possible appeal by Nomeco, requires Ranbaxy's product to be withdrawn from the Danish market pending the outcome of a patent infringement trial in the country that has not yet been scheduled. At issue are three Pfizer patents covering processes and intermediate compounds and the company says it has coverage for Lipitor until November 2011.

Nomeco says that it has been selling generic Lipitor for about a week but did not disclose how much product needed to be recalled. Ranbaxy, which could be subject to financial penalties for lost sales of the drug suffered by Pfizer, has yet to comment on the injunction.

Ranbaxy defeated in generic Flomax lawsuit

Meantime Ranbaxy suffered another reverse when a court in New Jersey backed Japan's Astellas Pharma and Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim in a lawsuit which will prevent the Indian drugmaker from launching a generic version of Harnal/Flomax (tamsulosin) for benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Astellas and Boehringer, which jointly market the drug in the USA, filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the US against Ranbaxy in May 2005, after the latter submitted an abbreviated New Drug Application for generic tamsulosin. With this latest ruling, Ranbaxy’s ANDA will not be approved before the US patent on Flomax expires in October 2009.