10. May 2012 11:00
Pfizer has dropped attempts to market its cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) in the US, nearly five months after its patent expiry.
The company said its post-expiry marketing campaign had been successful, but generic erosion of the Lipitor brand would soon escalate.
The decision is a milestone in the history of the world’s best-selling drug, used to help prevent cardiovascular events in high-risk patient groups.
Pfizer has ceased negotiating new contracts to sell Lipitor to health providers in the US or promoting it through sales representatives or advertising.
Following its US patent expiry on 30 November 2011, Pfizer invested $87m in sustaining the brand through doctor marketing, advertisements and price rebates. The strategy succeeded in retaining 33% of market share, bringing in $383m in the first quarter of 2012.
However, the second wave of generic atorvastatin following Lipitor’s patent expiry in the EU in May has prompted Pfizer to give up on the brand that at one time accounted for a quarter of its revenue.
The company will continue to promote the drug in emerging markets, including China, where it could still earn billions of dollars.