Pfizer is celebrating the news that a Canadian appeals court has blocked plans by Novopharm to sell a generic form of the drug giant’s COX-2 anti-inflammatory painkiller Celebrex.

The Federal Court of Appeal of Canada’s decision reverses an earlier ruling that would have permitted Novopharm, the Canadian unit of Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, to launch its copycat version of Celebrex (celecoxib). Now, the court has issued an order prohibiting regulatory approval of Novopharm’s product in Canada until the compound’s patent expires in November 2014.

The New York-based firm’s general counsel Allen Waxman claimed that the ruling is an important one, because “without appropriate protection of intellectual property, Pfizer and other research-based pharmaceutical companies would not be able to make the tremendous investments required to develop new, life-saving medicines”. The move follows a US judge's decision in March to uphold patents protecting Celebrex, blocking Teva's Abbreviated New Drug Application to market 100mg, 200mg and 400mg generic doses of the drug. At the time, Teva said it was planning an appeal.

Novopharm may seek to appeal this latest decision to the Supreme Court of Canada but it has not had much luck in its legal tussles with Pfizer. Last December, a Canadian federal court prevented the generics manufacturer from launching its version of the cholesterol-lowering blockbuster Lipitor (atorvastatin) until its patent expires in July 2010.