The latest battle between Pfizer and companies, notably Teva, looking to launch generic versions in the UK of the drug giant's blockbuster cholesterol lowerer Lipitor have been settled before a full trial.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Teva and other parties (Phoenix Healthcare Distribution, Barclay Pharmaceuticals, AAH Pharmaceuticals, L Rowland & Co and Day Lewis) have agreed not to sell the Israeli company's copycat version of Lipitor (atorvastatin) before patent expiry in May 2012.

In a short statement, Pfizer says Teva acknowledges that the Lipitor patent is valid and infringed by the latter's product. Other terms of the settlement remain confidential and a Teva spokeswoman confirmed to PharmaTimes World News that a deal has been done.

Pfizer notes that at the end of June, Teva "chose to undertake an aggressive launch of a generic product on a very large scale in the UK". An injunction to prohibit the supply and sale of generic Lipitor by Teva, Phoenix and AAH until May 12.

At the time, Pfizer issued a statement saying it was "fully sympathetic to the difficult position that many pharmacies find themselves in having purchased generic atorvastatin from Teva/AAH/Phoenix in good faith". It went on to say that the three firms' "actions and incorrect communications during and after their surreptitious launch that have put pharmacies in this position".

A full trial had been pencilled in by the High Court in London for late November and Pfizer had said it looked forward to the opportunity to defend its patent vigorously. It added that following the trial, it would pursue "full financial recompense against all relevant infringing parties".

However, there will now be no trial and Pfizer will be hoping Lipitor will not be challenged again before the patent expires next May.