Pfizer (PFE), Partner Sued Over Delays to Generic Lipitor

July 6, 2012 8:43 AM EDT
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Ranbaxy Labs of India are coming under some heat regarding generic versions of Lipitor.

According to reports out late Thursday, retailers Walgreen (NYSE: WAG), Kroger (NYSE: KR), Safeway (NYSE: SWY), SUPERVALU (NYSE: SVU) and HEB Grocery (a Texas and Mexico grocer) have filed a lawsuit against the duo, claiming conspiracy surrounding a massive delay in offering the generic cholesterol-fighting drug.

Reuters said the suit alleges that the "defendants did this by obtaining a fraudulent patent, engaging in sham litigation, entering a price-fixing agreement to delay cheaper generics, and entering arrangements with pharmacy benefit managers to force retailers to buy more Lipitor."

Generic versions didn't hit store shelves until November 30, 2011, about 20 months after expiration of the original patents.

A spokesperson for Pfizer said the pharmaceutical giant denies the claims and will defend itself "vigorously."

Lipitor sales were $9.6 billion in 2011. For the first-quarter of 2012, sales fell 42 percent from $2.39 billion down to $1.4 billion, based on loss of U.S. exclusivity.

The case is Walgreen Co et al v. Pfizer Inc et al, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 12-04115.

Shares of Pfizer are lower in early trading.

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