The price of Lipitor, the world’s top-selling cholesterol drug, is about to plummet, providing an estimated savings of more than $100 a month for individuals using the popular statin.
According to a recent report by MSNBC, the expiration of Lipitor’s U.S. patent at the end of the month will unleash a wave of cheap generics, one of which, Atorvastatin, is expected to hit the market on November 30th.
Industry analysts say that people are currently spending $115 to $187 a month on Lipitor to control their cholesterol and cut their chances of a heart attack, but within as little as six months, those prices could drop to $5 for a 30 day supply.
“More people will be able to afford the generic atorvastatin and it should quickly outsell Pfizer’s original,” IMS Health spokesman Gary Gatyas told ABC Denver.
In response to the upcoming changes, Pfizer is reportedly taking drastic measures to protect its investment – the company obtained full ownership of Lipitor in 2000 through its $114 billion acquisition of Warner-Lambert.
In addition to offering a coupon that will cut copays on the cholesterol drug for insured patients to as little as $4 a month, Pfizer is also looking into creating a version of Lipitor that can be sold over the counter. Due to strict regulatory processes on pharmaceuticals however, that process could take up to two years.
The drop in cholesterol drug prices comes as welcome news to the ears of Dr. Thomas Haffey, who explained he sees patients in his office every day who are choosing to go without cholesterol medication because they can’t afford them.
“They often make tough decisions about whether they eat or whether they take the medicines,” Haffey said, adding, “Any time you can reduce the costs of quality health care, we certainly are happy and encouraged about that.”