Ranbaxy Laboratories on Tuesday said it has launched the generic version of cholesterol lowering drug atorvastatin in South Africa under the brand Lipogen.

Atorvastatin is a patented drug from Pfizer’s portfolio and is the world’s largest selling medicine under the Lipitor brand with an annual sales of more than Rs 60,000 crore.

“Ranbaxy is the first generic pharmaceutical company to launch a generic atorvastatin in South Africa,” the Gurgaon-based company said in a statement. The company said it has launched the drug in 10mg, 20mg, 40 mg and 80 mg strengths in South Africa through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ranbaxy S A.

“With this launch, Ranbaxy S A becomes the only company to have an 80 mg Generic Atorvastatin, in South Africa,” Ranbaxy said.

Pfizer also sells generic version of Lipitor in the South African market through a group company, Pharmacia, under the brand Aspovar in 10mg, 20mg and 40 mg strengths.

Atorvastatin is the second largest molecule in South Africa after esomeprazole, an anti-stomach ulcer drug and has a current market size of $ 26.1 million per annum, the company said, while quoting IMS figure.

“Lipogen is also the first generic in South Africa to carry information in blind friendly braille format on its packaging,” the company said.

The company said, “Favourable reimbursement terms to encourage generic substitution have also been worked out while special distribution arrangements have been made with wholesalers and distributors to improve patient access.”

Ranbaxy S A (Pty) Ltd, based in South Africa, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited, India’s largest pharmaceutical company.

Ranbaxy became a part of Daiichi Sankyo Group in 2008 after Japan’s third largest drug maker Daiichi Sankyo bought majority stake in it for Rs 22,000 crore.

In 2008, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Pfizer entered into a lawsuit settlement, under which Ranbaxy had agreed not to sell generic versions of Lipitor in the U.S. until November 2011. As per the agreement, Ranbaxy got the license to sell Atorvastatin on varying dates in other seven countries including Canada, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Australia.

Ranbaxy, which was the first generic drug maker to challenge the Lipitor patent, was eligible for gaining exclusive marketing rights for 180 days of the drug after getting U.S. health regulator Food and Drug Administration’ nod in the U.S., which is also the largest drug market globally.

The Ranbaxy Laboratories stock was trading at Rs 422.10 on the BSE, down 0.13 per cent from its previous close.

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