As trade publication FiercePharma noted, “The AARP report itself is a pretty good playbook for drugmakers facing a patent loss.” According to the study, Pfizer’s moves to hang onto Lipitor sales included:
–Raising the price of the drug while it was still under patent, from a typical $1,290 per patient per year in 2006 to $1,939 in 2011, the last year of patent protection.
–Advertising directly to consumers during patent years, to boost usage, spending $1.43 billion from 2000 to 2010.
–Entering into a so-called pay-to-delay deal with Ranbaxy, a generics maker, delaying the initial generic introduction from June 2011 to December 1 of that year.
–Launching a so-called authorized generic via Watson Pharmaceuticals, which shared about 70% of its Lipitor-related profits with Pfizer and diminished other generic sales.
–Giving consumers coupons to greatly reduce their co-pays to encourage them to stay on branded Lipitor and not switch to generic equivalents. And paying rebates to insurers and/or pharmacy benefit managers to keep using Lipitor.
The result: four months after generic Lipitor was launched, Pfizer’s branded version hung onto about one third of the market, roughly three times as much as expected when a drug loses patent protection.