Generic versions of medications are not a new development in this day and age of high priced health care and brand name prescriptions. They have saved people hundreds if not thousands of dollars, helping those on fixed incomes, those with limited or no insurance and those with high priced deductible insurances are able to afford these medications when brand names were just too expensive.
Now people are going to be able to get a generic version of the cholesterol lowering medication Lipitor, thanks to a new FDA approval that Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals received to make Atorvastatin, a generic alternative to be used in place of Lipitor.
Ranbaxy was given exclusive rights to sell the generic version for the next 6 months which could result in revenue as high as $650 million during that six month time period, according to analysts.
The FDA states it is working hard to make generic versions of the higher priced name brand medications available to Americans. “This medication is widely used by people who must manage their high cholesterol over time, so it is important to have affordable treatment options,” said a statement by Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is not just lying down however, and despite the expiring patent on Lipitor, they are fighting to keep on top by intending to offer Lipitor to patients and companies at or below the generic cost during the 6 months the generic medicine was given to make its debut. They are determined to not let the generic brand of medicine that is to be given in place of Lipitor, affect their sales and they are adopting some pretty tough strategies to ensure this.
They have also teamed up with Watson Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:WPI), a player in the generics game, and have an authorized generic version of Lipitor to go up against Ranbaxy. This move will undoubtedly ensure that Pfizer will retain a lot of its patients, since the generic version is going to be manufactured and supplied by Watson Pharma of Pfizer. Of course Pfizer will get a share of sales from this maneuver.
During the six month exclusivity time frame, Pfizer’s Authorized Version will only face limited competition. As of right now, Ranbaxy is the first company to gain approval for the generic drug. The steps Pfizer has taken to both block and compete with their generic competitors will more than likely be very successful in retaining their share during the exclusivity period, mainly due to the fact that there isn’t that much in the way of competition for them to worry about right now.
It’s after that six month time period that Lipitor will probably see a drop as many more generics come onto the scene. Already Mylan and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories are in the wings, waiting to receive their FDA approvals for their generic equivalent of Lipitor. They plan to launch after the 6 months is up which puts it at about May.