US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will lose the patent for exclusive right to manufacture erectile drug Viagra in Brazil on June 20, the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court has ruled.
The 5-1 decision, which overturned a lower court ruling that would have given Pfizer exclusivity until June 2011, opens the way for generic versions of the blockbuster medication to be marketed in the South American nation.
The county's highest court said it "accepted the recommendation of the National Institute of Industrial Property," which had called for the patent to expire this year.
Pfizer, which may appeal the ruling, argues that it was accorded a 10-year patent by the European Commission in June 1991, and wants the exclusive rights to manufacture the drug to extend until June 2011.
The erectile dysfunction drug, which works by increasing blood flow, is used by 35 million men in 120 countries and is one of the best-selling drugs in the world.
According to Pfizer's local affiliate in Brazil, some 7.1 million of the iconic blue pills were sold in the Latin American country in 2007.
In 2009, Pfizer reported sales of 1.4 billion reais (795 million dollars) in Brazil, where two 50 milligram Viagra tablets sell for 67 reais (38 dollars).