Lipitor and Boomers: Why We Should Care
Lipitor went off patent today. Â Instead of costing boomers $5 a pill or roughly $150 a month, Lipitor will sell for about $2.50 a pill. Â In about 6 months it will drop to $4.00 a month when competing generic manufacturers begin selling their versions of this statin drug.
Pfizer, the manufacturer of this blockbuster drug, is trying to preserve its franchise. Because lipitor, according to Â Shari Roan of the Los Angeles Times is Pfizer’s cash cow. Now the company is doing everything it can to ensure consumers continue to prefer Lipitor over other generic drugs. It is a nice way of saying the company is trying to continue its monopoly beyond the patent.
Why is Pfizer Making Deals
In an effort to fight off other generic drugs, Pfizer is arranging deals with insurance companies, making side deals with druggists, giving coupons to individual patients and anyone else they can find to hang on to their position(mental space) in the public’s mind. This is key, they want Â us to hold on to our belief that their product is superior.
Most doctors base their support for this drug upon research and FDA recommendations. However doctors Â also agree that one generic drug is every bit as good as a brand name generic, or at least they should be, in terms of the drug’s molecular structure and strength.
Are Brand Generics different from Generics
So Pfizer cannot make the argument that their brand name generic drug is better than other generics.Â There is no reason for us to care Â about this brand name generic vs generic debate because all generics are equal. Â Right! But the marketing that Pfizer is doing to protect its financial interest is interesting.
The first time I thought twice about being sold medicine was when Prilosec ran the television ads suggesting viewers ask their doctors for the “purple pill.” Â That struck me as wrong somehow just as I am a little ruffled by Pfizer’s attempt to muddy the waters in the generic drug game regarding what Â is good and what is better.
With an aging population, most of us will need drugs. Â We will be obliged to find generic options because prescription plans do not always pay for branded medicines. Â But Pfizer’s actions blur the lines between insurance plans and Big Pharma. Â This will keep prices high. I want to feel comfortable that the molecular structure of the medicine I am getting is true to its formula and that money is not governing science.
With Pfizer making direct deals I anticipate more complications to come. Â Although this is not the first medicine to come off patent, Â it is the first time there is transparency in the marketing strategy when a leader in the arena comes off patent.
Big Pharma is selling Directly to Consumers
A look at the offiical Lipitor website makes the argument that the company drug has a track record and a program to help consumers keep taking the drug for as low as a $4.00 copay. It encouragesÂ patients to sign up for a special card that is neither related to health insurance or doctors but to participating pharmacies.Â So Big Pharmas will be selling directly to patients.
I suspect there will be much more of this as the population ages and the business of big pharma changes in order to keep the dollars coming. AARP asks a similar question of what will happen to the price of prescriptions.
Is there an investment opportunity
Do you think there Â is an investment opportunity here in either generic or branded generic medicine that you understand? Â I am interested in your thoughts?
Oh yes, today is World Aids Day. Don’t forget to wear something red to help people remember we still need to find a cure for this illness.