Thursday, December 1, 2011

So Ends A Gilded Age Of Pharma. . . Farewell, Branded Lipitor®!

Almost certainly, no other pill so definitively embodied the passing of a golden age of pharma company dominance -- Lipitor® was the single highest-grossing prescription drug in history -- regularly clocking $12 billion, year after year, for over a decade.

And now, as it moves reluctantly toward the longer shadows, it is witness to the largest generic launch in history -- that began in earnest early today, with two generic manufacturers selling the bio-equivalent (one authorized by Pfizer, the other a pure generic). For its part, Pfizer itself began offering the branded vesion at very-near a generic price -- to try to keep some share.

So we bid that complicated branded molecule (at right) "Adieu." Per The Wall Street Journal, here -- a bit (do go read it all):

. . . . Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. began selling a generic version of Lipitor, marking the long-awaited loss of U.S. market exclusivity for the world's top-selling drug. Watson, of Parsippany, N.J., is selling a so-called authorized generic version of Lipitor, in partnership with Pfizer for the next five years.

The FDA said Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., a unit of Japan's Daiichi Sankyo Co., gained approval to make generic atorvastatin calcium tablets in four strengths ranging from 10 to 80 milligrams. However, the agency said the drug would be manufactured by Ohm Laboratories in New Brunswick, N.J.

Under the federal law authorizing generic drugs, Ranbaxy was given first dibs on selling a no-name version of Lipitor for 180 days because it was the first to apply for FDA approval, submitting a request in 2002. . . .

Pfizer has offered health payers contracts to make brand-name Lipitor available at or below the generic cost beginning Wednesday. The company is offering consumers incentives to stay on the branded drug, including coupons that lower monthly copays to $4, as well as a mail-order service. . . .

Watson has [already] shipped about 1.5 million bottles of generic Lipitor. . . . Some of the pharmacies should have received the product already and have it available to patients, he said.

The nation's two biggest drugstore chains, Walgreen Co. and CVS Caremark Corp., said their customers would be able to start getting the generic version on Thursday. . . .

Merck's Singular® is the next really big cliff-fall we will be keeping our eyes on. . . . G'Night.


Anonymous said...

So, I wonder-will we now see a combo pill of zetia and generic lipitor?

condor said...

Heh -- I doubt it.

But never say never, right?