Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has decided not to sell a generic version of Pfizer's blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor.

In December, the Israeli drugmaker signed a deal with Ranbaxy Laboratories to help the latter during the 180-day exclusivity period the Indian firm had to sell its copycat version of Lipitor (atorvastatin). Their pact has seen Ranbaxy pocket some $600 million already, while Teva's coffers have been boosted by $300 million.

However the exclusivity period ends today (May 29), opening up the market for a number of other players such as Mylan, Dr Reddy's, Aurobindo Pharma and Actavis, which is in the process of being bought by Watson Pharmaceuticals; the latter is already selling its authorised generic under a deal with Pfizer.

At the end of last year, the US Food and Drug Administration granted tentative approval for Teva's version of Lipitor but the firm will not take up the option. Explaining the decision late last week (and reported by the Economic Times), William Marth, chief executive of Teva's Americas unit, said "we've made a really hard choice on not launching atorvastatin". He added that "the reason we came to that decision was, when we looked at our product, we only had it in the 30-tablet bottle".

Mr Marth said that the "tough decision…doesn't mean that sometime in the future we may launch atorvastatin", adding that the move not to sell certain products such as generic Lipitor and copies of Merck & Co's older statin Zocor (simvastatin) will cost the firm about $150 million.