Medpundit’s got a good post on the marketing of Lipitor. It stands alone so I won’t quote anything here, except to re-post the comment that I left there:
Interesting post. Thanks for the analysis. It mirrors what I had suspected recently with regards to the “80mg Lipitor” reduces the risk of stroke. Emphasis on the 80mg part.
AstraZeneca did something similar with their marketing of Nexium, btw. You’ll recall that Prilosec is typically prescribed as 20mg QD. Nexium is most common as 40mg QD. A drug rep (no longer with AZ) told me that they compared the two together — only Nexium was at 40mg and Prilosec was at 20mg. Naturally that part wasn’t emphasized, and a lot of doctors were snowed by it. Hence Nexium’s evergreened, un-deserved, excessively-costly popularity.
In the case of Lipitor, I think marketing will only work for so long. It’s in the government’s interest to conduct head-to-head studies comparing the generic statins to Lipitor because it can save them money. It’s only a matter of time before this is done — and I think the results are not going to be in Pfizer’s favor, which is why I think Lipitor will largely be irrelevant by the time it loses protection in 2010.
And another comment I left on PharmaGossip about a week or so ago:
It seems likely, to me, that this study was conducted with an eye toward generic competition in the form of simvastatin. Pfizer knew Merck was their largest competitor in the statin market, and conducted this study in the hopes of finding this correlation at around this time.
In the last month, I’ve seen Express Scripts (one of the largest pharmacy PBMs) move toward making Lipitor available only with a Prior Authorization where before it was the preferred statin of choice. Several other PBMs have done the same thing.
The only exception in the case of Express? 80mg Lipitor. I think that’s why Pfizer is emphasizing the “80mg” part as much as the “Lipitor” part: the strength is just as significant (for them) as the drug itself.
My experience is anecdotal in this case — and should be taken as such — but there it is nonetheless.
I should add an addendum that I have since seen Express Scripts cover lower doses of Lipitor, and that different plans probably have different formularies. (Or doctors simply bothered to call in a PA before the patient filled the script which is equally possible.)
[tags]Medicine, pharmacy, marketing, Pfizer, Lipitor, cholesterol, statins[/tags]