Sanofi make generic of Pfizer's Lipitor -paper

PARIS, Sept 1 Thu Sep 1, 2011 1:31am EDT

PARIS, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Sanofi has won a licence from Pfizer to make a generic of the U.S. drugmaker's cholesterol treatment Lipitor, the world's best-selling treatment, which will lose patent protection next year.

Les Echos newspaper, citing two sources close to the matter, reported on Thursday that Sanofi's generic drugmaker Zentiva will be allowed to produce Lipitor's active ingredient atorvastatine in France possibly even before the patent's expiry on May 7, 2012.

No one at Sanofi was immediately available to comment.

The deal is part of France's Strategic Council of Health Industries (CSIS) programme, a cooperation agreement between the sector and the government, which gives the original drugmaker a tax break if it allows a generic drugmaker to produce and sell cheaper copies as the branded drug's patent expires.

The CSIS agreement is aimed to keep production sites and employment in France. In France, Lipitor is known under the brand Tahor.

A similar deal was signed in 2010 with U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly allowing Delpharm to produce the main ingredient of its anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa.

Sanofi has made generics one of its growth areas as several of its branded drugs are losing their patents. (Reporting by Caroline Jacobs; Editing by Will Waterman)

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