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Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Analyst Report) recently received a favorable ruling in its patent infringement case against Actavis, Inc. (ACT - Analyst Report) for Rapamune. The US District Court for the District of Delaware declared that Pfizer’s patent for sirolimus, the active ingredient in Rapamune, is valid and infringed.

Actavis, formerly known as Watson Pharma, was looking to launch its generic version of Rapamune which is indicated for the prevention of organ transplant rejection in kidney transplant patients aged 13 years and older.

Pfizer had initiated the patent infringement lawsuit in Apr 2010. With the Court ruling in Pfizer’s favor, Actavis will not be able to launch its generic version of Rapamune before the patent expires unless the company appeals the ruling and wins. The challenged patent is slated to expire on Jan 7, 2014.

Actavis is currently reviewing the Court’s ruling and intends to consider all options including the possibility of appealing the decision.

Pfizer currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The company recently announced fourth quarter earnings which were above expectations but below the year-ago earnings. Results were hit by the loss of exclusivity of certain products and the unfavorable impact of currency fluctuation.

Pfizer’s 2013 guidance was in line with expectations. While near-term earnings will be driven by cost cutting efforts and share repurchases, longer-term growth will depend on the success of drug development. The company’s pipeline needs to deliver given the Lipitor loss of exclusivity and the upcoming loss of exclusivity on additional products in the next few years.

Large-cap pharma companies that currently look better-positioned include Sanofi (SNY - Analyst Report) and Novo Nordisk (NVO - Analyst Report). Both companies are Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks.

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