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Issued: July 1987 Prosecuted by: Jerry Jannsen of Appleton, Wis.’ Wilhelm Law Service Litigated by: For Pfizer, New York’s Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. For Warner-Lambert, New York’s Skadden, Arps, Meagher, Slate & Flom and New York’s Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz Within six months of its March 1997 launch, Lipitor seized 20 percent of the share of the cholesterol drug market. That rapid commercial success — which translated into annual sales of $4.5 billion — would be enough to place the drug on any killer patent list. There’s more, however: Lipitor was essentially the engine that drove the merger between Pfizer Inc. and Warner-Lambert Company. Warner-Lambert, the patent holder, entered into a marketing agreement in 1997 with Pfizer. But in late 1999, Warner-Lambert announced a $66.8 billion merger with American Home Products Corp. of Madison, N.J. Fearful that this would derail the co-marketing agreement, Pfizer filed suit, claiming that the co-marketing agreement barred such a merger. Warner-Lambert countersued, seeking to end the co-marketing agreement. In January, Warner-Lambert agreed to be acquired by Pfizer for $90 billion. American Home Products walked away with a $1.8 billion breakup fee, but Pfizer won the Lipitor revenue sweepstakes.

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