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Pfizer says district court upholds Lyrica patent

NEW YORK (AP) -- Pfizer Inc. said a U.S. District Court upheld a patent protecting Lyrica, the company's second biggest-selling product.

Pfizer said late Thursday that the Delaware court upheld a patent on Lyrica that expires Dec. 30, 2018. Pfizer and Northwestern University filed lawsuits in 2009 against generic drug companies that asked the FDA for approval of their own versions of Lyrica, or pregabalin.

The company said two other patents are also being disputed in the case. Those patents are scheduled to expire in October 2013 and December 2018.

Lyrica is approved in the U.S. as a treatment for diabetic nerve pain, pain after shingles, fibromyalgia and for some seizures in adults with epilepsy. Pfizer reported $955 million in worldwide sales of Lyrica during the first quarter, including $395 million in the U.S.

The ruling is particularly important to Pfizer because its top-selling drug, Lipitor, came off patent protection last fall and now faces competition from generic versions of the drug.

Shares of Pfizer were unchanged at $23.79 in afternoon trading.