Three US Senators have written Pfizer over concerns that its unusual program with health plans and pharmacy benefits managers to block generic versions of its best-selling Lipitor cholesterol pill moves will increase costs for government health plans and others.
Pfizer's move, aimed at retaining hundreds of millions of dollars in Lipitor sales over the next several months, has angered the Senators. “Consumers and taxpayers foot the bill when drug benefit companies and insurers manipulate the marketplace to prevent access to generic drugs for millions of Americans,” says Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat who heads the Special Senate Committee on the Aging - in his usual inflammatory rhetoric about such things.
In their letter to Pfizer Ceo Ian Read, the Senators reiterate concerns expressed by some pharmacies that the pharmacy benefits managers may pocket discounts offered by Pfizer, but Medicare and employers will pay the full freight. The PBMs deny that this will occur.
A Pfizer spokesman adds: “The Senators’ letter is based upon an earlier article that contained incomplete and incorrect information about our Lipitor programs. We want the public to understand the facts. Our intent is to offer Lipitor to payers and patients at or below the cost of a generic during the 180-day period. As a result, patients receive Lipitor at co-pays comparable to generics.
As Pfizer says, "Trust us". It's not like we've paid billions in fines for off label marketing, price fixing or other unethical marketing programs in the past is it?
Posted by Bruce Lehr Dec 1st 2011.