Sanofi has confirmed that it will sell a generic version in France of Pfizer's cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, after reaching a deal with the US giant.

The French drugmaker has bagged a license from Pfizer to manufacture generic Lipitor (atorvastatin) covering just the domestic market. It will not launch the product until the drug's patent in France expires, on May 7, 2012. No financial terms of the pact were disclosed.

The deal is part of France's Strategic Council of Health Industries (CSIS) programme, reports Reuters, which is an agreement between business and government. The pact gives the original drugmaker a tax break if it allows a generic drugmaker to produce and sell copies as the branded drug's patent expires, and is designed to keep production sites and employment in France.

Pfizer has already granted a licence for Ranbaxy to sell generic versions of Lipitor on varying dates in other countries in Europe, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Italy. In the USA, the Indian drugmaker has a 180-day period of exclusivity from November 30 to sell its copy of the blockbuster and Watson Pharmaceuticals is set to sell an authorised generic manufactured by Pfizer on that day.