Ranbaxy Laboratories has launched generic copies of Pfizer's Lipitor in four European countries, including the key German market, a couple of months before the patents run out on the cholesterol blockbuster.

The Indian drugmaker is launching various versions of Lipitor (atorvastatin) in Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden and notes that the market sizes in these countries are $377 million, $164.4 million and $55 million, respectively. The company also revealed that its Basics affiliate has teamed up with Daiichi Sankyo (which has a majority stake in Ranbaxy) to launch the drug in Germany, where it is known as Sortis.

Ranbaxy's versions have received approval from the respective local regulatory authorities and the launches are in accordance with the Gurgaon-based firm's settlement with Pfizer to introduced the products ahead of the applicable patent expiries (the Netherlands and Sweden: May 6, Germany: May 7 and Italy: May 8).

At the end of November, Ranbaxy launched its version of Lipitor in the USA with 180 days of marketing exclusivity, as it was a first-to-file applicant for the product. Last month, it became the first company to launch generic atorvastatin in Australia.