Patent News | "Patent for Lipitor set to expire this week"

BY Tracy Connor 

Monday, November 28 2011, 10:57 PM

Category: Patent News

Lipitor Patent News
The nation’s best-selling drug is about to get a lot cheaper.
The patent for the cholesterol-buster Lipitor runs out Wednesday, when at least one generic is scheduled to hit the market.
That’s a tough pill for drug giant Pfizer to swallow — but good news for Bronx cashier Emily Flores, whose insurance no longer covers medication.
Last week, she drove to a lower-cost pharmacy in Westchester to fill her prescription and was stunned by the price of the brand-name statin.
“They wanted 500 dollars and change for a 90-day supply. I was devastated,” she said. “I told them, ‘I was expecting you to have a generic.’ He said, ‘Not yet.’”
Flores, 63, left empty-handed and talked with her doctor about taking an alternative drug to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
“But now I might be able to afford it,” she said.
New York-based Pfizer rakes in $11 billion a year from Lipitor, thanks to the two-decade monopoly that ends this week.
Only two generics will be on the market for the first 180 days, and prices are expected to drop 10% in that time. When the rest of the generic equivalents roll out in June, the real discounts kick in.
During the 180-day period, Pfizer hopes to stop customers from bolting by keeping down retail costs for the brand-name drug.
It’s touting a co-pay card that patients can use to lower a $50 copay to $4, and a new low-cost mail-order service.
The company also is trying to cut deals with insurance companies to offer Lipitor as cheaply as generics.
It’s even exploring the possibility of applying for over-the-counter status for Lipitor — though the feds have shot down similar efforts by other statin makers.
At Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, Dr. Robert Ostfeld welcomes the expiration of a patent that has kept prices too high for some of his patients.
“Generics are nearly, if not completely, identical to the non-generic version,” the cardiologist said.
“It’s sad when patients have to legitimately choose between paying rent and taking a statin.”
Jadwiga Szyr, 62, a program manager at a Brooklyn senior center, has been forced to make tough choices.
When her insurance stopped covering Lipitor, she couldn’t afford the $180 a month her pharmacy charged. She switched to a different statin, which she says has been less effective.
“I would like to go back to taking the Lipitor,” she said. “Maybe I can now.”

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