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Ranbaxy down 43%

Shares in India's top drug maker, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., fell as much as 8.9 per cent after it lost a patent case to launch a copycat version of Pfizer Inc.'s cholesterol drug, Lipitor. Ranbaxy's shares dropped as low as 355.55 rupees, while the benchmark BSE index was up 0.4 per cent.

A US federal judge upheld the validity of two of Pfizer's key US patents on the cholesterol drug, blocking a generic version that Ranbaxy planned to introduce.

Ranbaxy has said it will appeal against the ruling. Ranbaxy reported a 91 per cent plunge in net profit to 184 million rupees in the quarter ended September 2005, as competition in the US generic market ate into its profit margins.

The company has forecast a much improved position in 2006. It plans to launch 15 products in the United States and has said sales will rise 18 per cent, compared with a forecast of low single digits for 2005. It also sees an operating margin of more than 16 percent in 2006 against 8 per cent expected for 2005.

News of Pfizer's victory in the challenge that threatened the US company's largest source of revenue -- $12 billion a year -- had lifted its shares 10 percent in New York.


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