May 25, 2018 / 4:33 AM / a month ago

Australian anti-trust watchdog loses appeal against Pfizer over Lipitor sales

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An Australian court dismissed an appeal by the nation’s anti-trust watchdog in a case against Pfizer Inc in which the regulator alleged the company had used its market power to limit competition for its cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor.

FILE PHOTO: The Pfizer logo is seen at their world headquarters in New York April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Friday it was considering the judgment and remained committed to pursuing cases involving “misuse of market power”.

“The ACCC brought this appeal because it was concerned that Pfizer’s use of its market position as supplier of the top selling branded atorvastatin immediately before generic products were able to enter the market harmed the competitive process and therefore consumers,” Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

The drug Lipitor generated annual sales of more than A$700 million ($530 million) for Pfizer in Australia before the company’s patent expired there in May 2012, the Commission said when it launched the case against Pfizer in 2014.

The Commission had alleged that Pfizer had offered big discounts and rebates on Lipitor to pharmacies that bought up large quantities of the drug and agreed to limit re-supply of competing generic atorvastatin products.

The full Federal Court upheld a 2015 decision which found the regulator had failed to show that the sales strategy was specifically designed to deter other generic manufacturers from supplying their own atorvastatin to pharmacies.

Pfizer welcomed the decision on Friday.

“We have always maintained that our behavior was appropriate and reflected the high ethical standards, integrity and compliance that are central to our culture,” Pfizer said in an emailed statement.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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