Ranbaxy Laboratories is celebrating a major legal victory which will allow the Indian drugmaker to market its generic version of Pfizer’s anti-cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor in Norway.

The Norwegian Appeals Court has handed down a favourable decision for Ranbaxy in its case against Pfizer, involving key patents on Lipitor (atorvastatin) in Norway. The ruling upheld a Norwegian lower court’s decision favouring Ranbaxy in two cases and overturned two other decisions that favoured the New York-based drugs giant.

Specifically, the Borgarting Court of Appeal in Oslo ruled that three Pfizer patents covering intermediate compounds used to make atorvastatin would not be infringed by the sale of a Ranbaxy generic product in Norway and it also decreed that Pfizer’s patent covering a process for manufacturing amorphous atorvastatin is invalid. The patents expire between February 2009 and July 2016.

The Gurgaon-headquartered group was understandably delighted and Jay Deshmukh, senior vice president, global intellectual property, said “this is the most important decision for Ranbaxy as it completely validates our position in relation to the atorvastatin patents. The decision “will allow Ranbaxy to market an affordable, generic dosage form of atorvastatin that will be of benefit to Norwegian patients,” he added.

Pfizer was not so pleased and said that it will “immediately seek to appeal” the ruling and general counsel Allen Waxman said that while the firm is disappointed, “we are confident that, if the Supreme Court agrees to hear our appeal, we will be able to make a compelling argument in support of our patents.” He added that the ruling had no bearing on Lipitor patent challenges pending in other countries.

Pfizer and Ranbaxy have been engaged in patent battles over Lipitor all over the globe and one of the most recent cases also took place in Scandinavia. The Indian drugmaker launched a generic form of the drug in Denmark in February but the US firm managed to get a court injunction a couple of weeks later that led to the suspension of sales.