(Adds further details on case)
LONDON Oct 13 Pfizer suffered a setback
in Britain on Thursday when the Court of Appeal in London ruled
against it in a patent case over the use of its $5
billion-a-year drug Lyrica for pain relief.
Pfizer said it was disappointed by the decision and would
seek a further appeal.
Lyrica, known generically as pregabalin, was originally
developed for epilepsy. However, further research showed it
could also help patients suffering from neuropathic pain and
most prescriptions are now written for pain.
While the original patent on pregabalin has expired, Pfizer
was awarded a secondary patent covering pain, valid until July
2017, and the U.S. drugmaker had been fighting to protect this
lucrative section of the market.
The expiry of the basic patent allowed generic drugmakers
including Actavis, now renamed Allergan, to launch
cut-price versions of the medicine, which carried a "skinny
label" limiting their use to epilepsy and general anxiety
But Pfizer still sued, arguing it was inevitable that the
copycat versions would be dispensed for pain as well as other
The court of appeal ruling endorsed an initial 2015 verdict
that generic companies had not infringed Pfizer's secondary
patent and its patent claims directed generally to pain and
neuropathic pain were invalid.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Tom Bergin/Ruth