NEW YORK: Pfizer is focusing on promoting the Lipitor For You program after recently losing patent exclusivity for the cholesterol-lowering drug.
The program provides consumers with a co-pay card to get the drug for as low as $4 per monthly prescription with the rest of the cost typically absorbed by an employer's insurance plan. The program will run through the end of this year.
Three million patients were using the drug before patent exclusivity ended November 30, 2011. The generic versions of Lipitor include atorvastatin pills from Ranbaxy Laboratories and an authorize generic from Watson Pharmaceuticals, which is manufactured by Pfizer and marketed by Watson.
Pfizer has used press outreach to make sure the media is aware of the program and to ensure information about the brand is accurate. Pfizer also teamed up with restaurateur Joe Bastianich, a judge on Fox's Master Chef and owner of 22 restaurants around the country, to encourage consumers to ask physicians about Lipitor as a treatment choice.
The drugmaker also launched the site HeartInTheKitchen.com to promote the partnership.
“Our goal is to support patient choice in an effort to advance their own healthcare,” said MacKay Jimeson, a press officer at Pfizer. Ketchum is assisting Pfizer with its media strategy for Lipitor.
Pfizer has also continued to invest in direct-to-consumer advertising to promote Lipitor, “which is not typical for a drug that has lost exclusivity,” Jimenson said. He added that the company “will continue to promote Lipitor as long as we get positive returns.”
Twenty-nine days before exclusivity ended, Pfizer reported that the drug made $2.6 billion worldwide during the third quarter of 2011, up 3% compared with the same period of the prior year. Pfizer will report post-exclusivity earnings for Lipitor on January 31. Sales for the drug have averaged $11 billion a year, one-sixth of Pfizer's total sales.
Even before the release of the company's fourth-quarter earnings, Kipp Davis, an analyst at Barclays Capital, doubted the success of the Lipitor For You program. “It's tough to say that the strategy is working particularly well given the data,” he said. Figures from pharmaceutical intelligence firm IMS Health show that Lipitor's market share has dropped 67% from the end of November, with the drug maintaining less than 33% of market share at the beginning of January.