Ranbaxy supplies Lipitor for 4 EU markets

Indian group Ranbaxy Laboratories has launched generic copies of Lipitor in four European markets, bringing cheap versions of U.S. drugmaker Pfizer’s blockbuster cholesterol drug to Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The launch of a generic version of the largest-selling drug of all time came two months before patents expire in the four countries, following an agreement with Pfizer.

The drug went off patent in the United States at the end of November, marking a major milestone for a global pharmaceutical industry facing a wave of patent losses, of which Lipitor is the biggest.

Ranbaxy said on Tuesday it would sell 10, 20, 40 and 80 milligram tablets of the medicine, known generically as atorvastatin, in Germany, Italy and Sweden. The top 80 mg dose will not be available in the Netherlands.

Lipitor became available in 1997 and generated worldwide annual sales of $13 billion at its peak. It lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart attack and stroke.

It has chalked up more than $130 billion in sales during its time on the market and many analysts doubt if another drug of its magnitude will be seen again, in part because drugmakers are moving to a model of more personalised medicine.