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Managed care plans prefer generic over branded Lipitor


PHOENIX — Managed care and prescription plans are working to switch patients to generic versions of Pfizer's Lipitor despite the drug maker's efforts to reduce costs for the branded version, a new study suggested.

According to a report released Wednesday by Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions' inThought research group, while Lipitor (atorvastatin) has 41% of the market share of all dispensed prescriptions of atorvastatin, it has 35% of the payer approval volume.

"At 41% of market share, Lipitor is ahead of the game, at least compared [with] Aricept (donepezil hydrochloride) and Cozaar (losartan), both blockbuster drugs that lost patent protection in the last two years," Wolters Kluwer inThought analyst and author of the report Rusty Jones said, referring to an Alzheimer's disease drug made by Pfizer and Eisai and a blood pressure drug made by Merck, respectively. "Our latest data, however, show that it may be losing more ground than the traditional prescription data suggest, especially on the important battleground of managed care coverage."

The report noted that Pfizer has used several managed care strategies to maintain its brand share of the drug, which lost patent protection in November 2011 and now faces competition from a generic version made by Ranbaxy Labs. But despite Pfizer's efforts to lower patient costs, it has retained less than half the total atorvastatin pill count, 10 weeks after the generic became available.

"Since the 35% approval volume is lower than Lipitor's current market share, the claims data suggest that Lipitor volumes will continue to decline," Jones said. "Despite the discounts, managed care plans are still financially motivated to put their patients on generic atorvastatin."


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