US drug giant Pfizer said Thursday it will appeal a Canadian federal court decision paving the way for the pharmaceutical firm Apotex to launch a generic version of its anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor.
The court had previously denied Pfizer's request to prevent Apotex from launching a generic version of Lipitor prior to the expiration of a Pfizer patent in July 2010.
The drug (atorvastatin calcium) has generated 13 billion dollars in sales worldwide for Pfizer, making it the leading cholesterol-lowering medication.
Lipitor is used to treat high cholesterol, helping to prevent heart disease and hardening of the arteries -- conditions that can lead to heart attack, stroke, and vascular disease.
Pfizer said the Canadian court's decision "has no immediate commercial impact because Lipitor is protected by other patents in Canada, which also are the subject of pending legal challenges."
The ruling by the federal court also has no impact on Lipitor patent litigation in other countries, the company said.