PUBPAT CHALLENGES LIPITOR PATENT TO PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH: Patent Office Shown Evidence Proving Blockbuster Cholesterol-Lowering Drug was Already Known
NEW YORK -- September 14, 2004 -- The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") filed a formal request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office today to review and ultimately revoke Pfizer Inc.'s patent on Lipitor®, touted by the pharmaceutical giant as being "the best-selling treatment for lowering cholesterol and the best-selling pharmaceutical product of any kind in the world." In its filing, PUBPAT submitted prior art showing the patent, which issued in October 1999 and is not otherwise due to expire until 2016, was anticipated by earlier work of other inventors and, as such, should have never been granted.
"[M]illions of Americans are not getting the cholesterol lowering treatment they need and deserve [because] the price for Lipitor® is too high," states PUBPAT's Request for Ex Parte Reexamination of U.S. Patent No. 5,969,156 ("the '156 patent"). "Pfizer is able to charge such a high price for Lipitor® because the '156 patent stands as an impediment to the marketing of a generic atorvastatin pharmaceutical product (atorvastatin is the generic name of the compound marketed by Pfizer under the Lipitor® brand name)."
In the past few months, Pfizer has filed numerous infringement lawsuits asserting the '156 patent against websites offering generic or lower priced versions of Lipitor®. Pfizer also recently ended its drug discount program for the elderly. A one-month supply of Lipitor in New York costs from $105 to $132 according the New York Attorney General's website dedicated to providing information about pharmaceutical drug pricing. Recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that Pfizer made $2.4B from the sale of Lipitor® in the second quarter of 2004 alone.
"We have given the Patent Office two separate and independent pieces of evidence showing that the '156 patent, which Pfizer is using to keep Americans from getting a generic version of Lipitor®, should never have been granted," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's Executive Director. "We made the decision to challenge the Lipitor patent because Atorvastatin is just way too important of a drug to the American people to allow substantial issues regarding the validity of the patent preventing competition to Lipitor® to go unaddressed."
The Request for Reexamination can be found at PUBPAT > Pfizer Lipitor Patent.