Report: Pfizer seeks aid of PBMs in efforts to block generic versions of Lipitor

NEW YORK — When its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor loses patent protection this month, Pfizer is hoping that pharmacy benefit managers will not dispense a generic version of the drug to its customers, according to published reports.

Pharmacy benefit managers Medco and Catalyst have agreed to block generic versions of Lipitor from reaching their customers until the end of May 2012, according to Bloomberg. Additionally, the company reportedly is in talks with Express Scripts to have the PBM also block generic versions from reaching customers as well.

According to Medco, however, its Lipitor strategy "delivers to [its] clients and members the option that maximizes value through the exclusivity period and reinforces our commitment to generics as a means of lowering costs of providing high-quality care." In a document sent to Drug Store News, Medco said the strategy, which will be adopted by more than 99% of its clients, has the following elements:

  • Retail pharmacies will be able to dispense generic Lipitor and will not be restricted from dispensing the generic;

  • To ensure adequate supplies immediately upon patent expiration, Medco will use Lipitor as its “house generic” (e.g., branded Lipitor will be dispensed as the generic product); and

  • In all cases, members with prescriptions that allow for generic substitution will pay the generic co-payments and clients will pay the same amount as specified by their contracts, independent of whether the generic or the branded Lipitor used as the “house generic” is dispensed.

Pfizer's efforts are despite the fact that the drug maker said earlier this month that it is considering the switch to an over-the-counter formulation for Lipitor.

Meanwhile, Watson is slated to market an authorized generic of the drug, which is a branded drug sold under its generic name at a reduced price, usually through a third-party company, as a way of creating a third front of competition against the actual generic.

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