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Pfizer loses UK patent for blockbuster pain drug after threats to doctors

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4918 (Published 14 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4918
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1The BMJ

The drug company Pfizer made unjustifiable threats when it said earlier this year that prescribing generic versions of pregabalin, which it markets as Lyrica, for pain control could leave doctors open to litigation, the High Court has ruled.

Mr Justice Richard Arnold said, in the course of a judgment in which he also overturned Pfizer’s UK patent for pregabalin for pain control, that the company made “groundless claims” that its patent for Lyrica would be infringed if doctors did not specify Lyrica as opposed to a generic alternative when prescribing pregabalin for pain.

Pfizer has said that it will appeal the ruling.

NHS England responded by saying that its current advice to doctors to prescribe Lyrica by brand name for use in pain control still stood and would not change until a court order giving effect to the judgment had been received.

Andrew Green, chairman of the BMA’s clinical and prescribing subcommittee for GPs, said that Pfizer should refund what the NHS has spent on branded Lyrica for pain.

The …

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