You gotta give them an A for effort and maybe creativity too.
Pfizer is embarking on a novel marketing/sales plan to protect shae of its Lipitor franchise as much as possible -- and perhaps preserving hundreds of millions to billions in revenue for itself in the process. Its new pricing strategy includes offering incentives to health plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to favor its brand-name drug, providing consumers a co-pay card that lowers their cost significantly, and partnering with a specialty pharmacy to mail Lipitor directly to patients.
In a poll of PBMs, 66.7 percent believe the moves will not protect Lipitor market share during the first 180 days of exclusivity that Ranbaxy Laboratories (in partnership with Teva) has in which to sell a generic. After six months, they expect Pfizer to lose 54.5 percent of the market. And a year from now, they expect Pfizer will have lost two-thirds of the Lipitor market.
That may be so but...and here's the Big But.
“What Pfizer is doing is groundbreaking, because they are taking a very aggressive step to stop erosion of their brand and this will probably result in protecting billions of dollars in the first six months that would have been lost otherwise,” says Rhonda Greenapple of Reimbursement Intelligence. “And partnering with a specialty pharmacy to protect a patent has never been done before. It’s a model everyone will look at and it’ll be very interesting to see what really happen after 180 days. Because if every brand does this, it could stop people from being converted” to generics.
It will be very interesting to watch how this plays out. Several Senators (next post) have already written to Pfizer CEO Ian Read about their concerns that this plan will in fact work and raise prices for consumers and the government in the process.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Dec 1st 2011.