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Pfizer Will Fight to Retain Celebrex Patent Protection

U.S. District Court invalidates reissue patent. Pfizer said it will appeal ruling. Celebrex generated $800 million in sales in 2013 Q4.

NEW YORK - Pharmaceutical company Pfizer (IW 500/22) said on Wednesday it will appeal a U.S. federal court's refusal to extend patent protection for its blockbuster Celebrex drug used to treat arthritis.

Pfizer said the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia invalidated the reissue patent covering methods of treating osteoarthritis and other approved conditions with celecoxib, the active ingredient in Celebrex.

The ruling means that Pfizer will be exposed to competition from generic drug makers earlier than the company expected.

"Pfizer disagrees with the ruling and will pursue all available remedies, including an immediate appeal of the court's decision," the world's largest pharmaceutical company said in a statement.

Celebrex generated about $800 million in sales in the fourth quarter of 2013.

The judge knocked down a patent reissue obtained by Pfizer on March 5. The reissue of the patent would have protected the Pfizer's celecoxib from competition until Dec. 2, 2015.

Pfizer has filed suit against several generic drug makers for infringement of the reissue patent. The companies had sought U.S. government approval to market a generic form of celecoxib in the United States beginning on May 30, when Pfizer's basic patent expires.

The defendants in that case are Israel's Teva (IW 1000/225), the world's largest generic drug maker; U.S. firms Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Watson Laboratories; Canadian firm Apotex; and India's Lupin.

The trial is scheduled to begin on March 19.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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