Despite launching its generic version of Pfizer's cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, Ranbaxy Laboratories has posted a hefty net loss for the fourth quarter as a result of taking a $500 million charge to cover liabilities from its legal dispute with the US Department of Justice.

The Indian drugmaker's loss for the quarter reached 29.83 billion rupees, about $586 million, due to the aforementioned provision arising from an investigation by the DoJ. Over three years ago, an import ban was placed on 30 of Ranbaxy’s generics over manufacturing violations at its Dewas and Paonta Sahib facilities.

Arun Sawhney, Ranbaxy's chief executive, said "I am satisfied with the progress we are making in resolving the long-standing issues with the US regulators". He added that a settlement signed with the Food and Drug Administration "and provision for eventual penalties that the DoJ may levy, brings greater predictability to our business in the US, one of our largest markets".

Sales for the quarter came in at 37.43 billion rupees, a leap of 57%, driven by a 230% jump in revenues from North America to 19.67 billion rupees. The figure was boosted by the introduction of generic Lipitor (atorvastatin) with partner Teva in the USA.

Turnover from Europe was flat at 3.80 billion rupees, while the Indian market slowed to 4.82 billion rupees. Sales in Africa grew 18% to 2.478 billion.

For full-year 2011, Mr Sawhney noted that Ranbaxy, which is majority-owned by Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo, "is the first pharma company of Indian origin to have surpassed sales of $2 billion". He added that during 2011, "we laid emphasis on strengthening our processes, focussing R&D efforts on our chosen therapies, working towards improving manufacturing efficiencies and costs, re-evaluating our brand marketing strategy and directing our energies at markets of greater importance".

For 2012, the Gurgaon-based company expects to achieve sales of $2.2 billion, not taking into account "any upside from first-to-file exclusivity launched during the year".