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01 Dec 2011 06:35 AM

Lipitor going generic, Pfizer making deals to keep consumers

The popular cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor goes off-patent today. Manufacturer Pfizer planned ahead, making agreements with some insurers to keep covering the drug.

The New York Times: Facing Generic Lipitor Rivals, Pfizer Battles To Protect Its Cash Cow
For the last year, Pfizer has been laying the groundwork to combat the looming competition against Lipitor, forging deals with insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and patients to meet or beat the price of its generic replacements. ... Some deals require pharmacies to reject prescriptions for low-cost generics, starting Thursday, and substitute a discounted name-brand Lipitor. Some deals have blocked generic makers from mail-order services that account for an estimated 40 percent of all Lipitor prescriptions (Wilson, 11/29).

CNN: Lipitor Loses Patent, Goes Generic
More than 17 million people have been prescribed Lipitor, according to its manufacturer Pfizer. Last year, Lipitor's sale added up to more than $5 billion in the United States alone, according to Medco (11/30).

Bloomberg: Pfizer After Lipitor Slims Down To Focus Next Bets On Mini-Blockbusters
CVS Caremark Corp. said this month it will offer Lipitor exclusively for patients in Medicare, the U.S. medical plan for the elderly and disabled, blocking the use of generic copies. Health insurers, including Coventry Health Care Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc., have agreed to similar pacts. The deals are meant to help Pfizer hold on to as much market share as possible until more generic makers are allowed to begin selling copies of the drug under normal patent procedures after 180 days (Armstrong, 11/30).

ABC: Consumers Will Pay Half As Much For Generic Version Of Lipitor
When it comes to prescribing the drug, many doctors say it won't matter to them whether their patients want to switch to the generic or continue taking Lipitor. Some doctors report that patients taking Crestor, a statin made by Astra Zeneca, have requested to switch to the generic Lipitor (Gann, 11/29).

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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