Pfizer Inc.’s Australian unit sued over sale of Lipitor generic variant

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Sydney, Australia (4E) – The Australian unit of Pfizer Inc. was sued by the competition regulator for misuse of its dominant market position tied to sales of its generic cholesterol drug.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced on Thursday said its legal action in the federal court was related to the 2012 action by Pfizer to supply drugstores of atorvastatin, the pharmaceutical giant’s generic variant of Lipitor, which is the largest selling prescription drug in the country under the federal drug plan.

Patent protection on Lipitor expired in May 2012, and at that time Lipitor was prescribed to over 1 million Australians with annual sales reaching 700mn Australian dollars ($625mn), according to ACCC data.

Pfizer reached a deal with pharmacies prior to the expiration of the drug’s patent, and they offered discounts and rebates on the condition that a minimum of 12-month supply of atorvastatin is purchased, according to the ACCC.

The regulator is seeking for penalties, declarations and costs, and a March 18 preliminary hearing has been scheduled in Sydney. Pfizer did not offer any comment saying that the matter was already before a court.

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