Canadian Supreme Court challenges Pfizer's Viagra monopoly

The pharmaceutical giant was stripped of its patent, leaving room for generic competition

By Natasha Lennard
November 10, 2012 12:14AM (UTC)
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The little blue pill ((Wikimedia))

On Thursday, Pfizer, inventors of Viagra, lost their patent to the erectile dysfunction drug in Canada. The Canadian Supreme Court justices unanimously decided to end the pharmaceutical giant's monopoly over the drug, which -- under patent law -- should have a time limit.

"Pfizer gained a benefit from the (Patent) Act -- exclusive monopoly rights -- while withholding disclosure in spite of its disclosure obligations under the act," Justice Louis LeBel wrote on behalf of the court, Reuters reported. "As a matter of policy and sound interpretation, patentees cannot be allowed to 'game' the system in this way."


Pfizer's "game," according to the court, was in not providing enough details to identify the active ingredient in Viagra. "Pfizer had the information needed to disclose the useful compound and chose not to release it," the ruling said.

Now stripped of its patent, Pfizer will face generic competition in Canada. The little blue pill is Pfizer's sixth-biggest medicine, with annual sales of about $2 billion, Reuters reported, noting that the Canadian ruling is unlikely to significantly impact U.S. sales.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Big Pharma Canada Patent Law Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Viagra