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Retailers claim Pfizer delayed generic Lipitor

Suit alleges drug firms stalled sales

TRENTON, N.J. — Five large drug and grocery chains are suing Pfizer Inc. and a second drug maker, alleging they conspired to delay sales of cheap generic versions of the blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor.

Lipitor, the world’s top-selling drug ever, got US generic competition on Nov. 30.

A lawsuit filed by Walgreen Co., Kroger Co., and three other retailers claims generics should have been available nearly two years earlier, when Lipitor’s original patent expired.

The lawsuit accuses Pfizer of patent fraud as well as ‘‘illegal, anticompetitive conduct’’ with generic drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories to block other generic drug makers from selling versions of Lipitor until recently.

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The suit also accuses Pfizer of making deals with prescription benefit managers to limit sales of generic Lipitor.

Pfizer denies the claims and says it will fight the lawsuit. Ranbaxy declined comment.