Canada's Supreme Court strips Viagra patent from Pfizer

Thu Nov 8, 2012 2:13pm EST
 

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Supreme Court struck down the patent on global pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer Inc's Viagra erectile dysfunction drug on Thursday and opened the door to generic competition.

The court backed an appeal by Israeli-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd - the world's largest generic drug maker - which argued Pfizer had been too vague when filing its patent, which runs out in 2014 in Canada.

In a unanimous 7-0 verdict, the court said Pfizer had not provided enough details to identify the active ingredient in Viagra.

"Pfizer gained a benefit from the (Patent) Act - exclusive monopoly rights - while withholding disclosure in spite of its disclosure obligations under the act," Justice Louis LeBel wrote on behalf of the court.

"As a matter of policy and sound interpretation, patentees cannot be allowed to 'game' the system in this way ... (the patent) is invalid."

In the past, Pfizer has successfully defended patent lawsuits from Teva in the United States, Spain, Norway and New Zealand.

"Pfizer expects to face generic competition in Canada shortly. The company ... is disappointed with the court's ruling," the firm said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

Company spokeswoman Christina Antoniou, citing commercial confidentiality, declined to say how much the Canadian Viagra market is worth.   Continued...

 
A box of Viagra, typically used to treat erectile dysfunction, is seen in a pharmacy in Toronto in this January 31, 2008, file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files