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New Delhi, Oct. 13

RANBAXY Laboratories Ltd will continue to pursue its growth strategy through acquisitions even after the UK Court ruled that the basic patent covering the active ingredient of Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering Lipitor was valid but a more specific patent, involving calcium salt of atorvastatin (chemical entity), was invalid.

Speaking on the sidelines of a symposium on the new patent regime, Dr Brian W. Tempest, CEO and Managing Director, Ranbaxy, said, "We will continue to look for acquisitions and that has not changed."

The court verdict will also not deter it from pursuing litigations in future.

The company, along with Agvar Chemicals Inc, has filed a joint complaint against Barr Laboratories Inc and Teva Pharmaceuticals, US, for damages and equitable relief for breach of contract, fraud and tortuous interference associated with the supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and commercialisation of fexofenadine hydrochloride tablets (an antihistamine) in the US market.

In a statement, Mr Jay Deshmukh, Vice-President of Global Intellectual Property, Ranbaxy, said: "We operated in good faith over a period of five years lending technical expertise to Barr in the development of the fexofenadine hydrochloride tablets, and investing heavily in facilities to meet the demands of Barr, only to be surprised by an undisclosed relationship between Barr and Teva. We believe this is a breach of our agreement with Barr and accordingly are now seeking all appropriate relief from a state court in New Jersey."

In respect to the UK court ruling, Mr Malvinder Mohan Singh, President, Pharmaceuticals, said: "We do not view the court's decision as a setback. While Pfizer has managed to get a favourable decision on one patent, we have managed to win the other one."

Both the companies are going in for appeal. The company has so far spent about $20 million in litigation being pursued around the world.

Ranbaxy believes that the UK Court verdict would not have any bearing on the case pending before a US Court. "They are two separate cases and we do not see one impacting the other," said Dr Tempest. He also added that the company had factored in the possibility of a negative judgment and hence this would not impact Ranbaxy's future plans.

Mr Singh said Ranbaxy would continue to be aggressive in the US market and has a strong product pipeline in both the US and European markets. "We have the second largest filings with the US Food and Drug Authority (FDA), and this year the number of applications is definitely more than last year's 26-27 filings," he added.

Dr Tempest further added that the focus would continue to be on the US and European markets, followed by the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. It is also hoping to turn its attention to the large Japanese markets.

On the issue of pricing pressures in the US, he said this is expected to continue next year too.

However, the two officials were unwilling to talk about the complaint filed against Barr and Teva since the matter is still sub judice.

On Thursday, when the Bombay Stock Exchange fell by 164 points, the Ranbaxy stock took a 6.29 per cent dip to close at Rs 458.40.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 14, 2005)
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