Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

High court tosses out Viagra patent

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OTTAWA -- Canada's market for generic erectile dysfunction drugs was thrown open for business Thursday after the Supreme Court of Canada invalidated the Viagra patent held by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Hours after Teva Canada, the Canadian drug company, won its appeal before the high court, it posted notice of its own generic version on its website -- the first commercial challenge to Pfizer's 14-year Viagra monopoly.

The Supreme Court, in an unanimous 7-0 ruling, annulled Pfizer's Viagra patent, saying it tried to "game" the Canadian system. The high court sided with Teva Canada's challenge of the legitimacy of the patent, paving the way for cheaper, generic versions.

The decision has big implications for users of erectile dysfunction drugs and the pharmaceutical industry, because it allows companies to create generic versions that are usually cheaper for consumers.

Teva Canada had no immediate comment, but its website featured a notice entitled, Introducing Novo-Sildenafil, a product it described as was "a generic alternative to Viagra."

"Canadian consumers will be saving money on it. There will probably be other generics involved soon enough," said Richard Gold, an intellectual property expert at Montreal's McGill University.

The ruling wipes out Pfizer's market dominance with Viagra. Its patent was scheduled to expire in 2014.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2012 A16

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