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Does a Top Drugmaker’s Playbook Stifle Competition?
Posted By Kim Keister On June 17, 2013 @ 3:43 pm In Health Talk | No Comments
If you owned the bestselling prescription drug of all time and its patent was about to expire, how would you prepare for competition from generic drugs?
You might look at what Pfizer did when time was running out on its patent for the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, which by 2011 had become the all-time bestselling prescription drug of any kind. And you could save yourself some time by reviewing a new AARP Public Policy Institute case study of Pfizer’s approach.
The AARP study lays out six steps that the drugmaker reportedly employed to protect and extend their revenue from Lipitor. Some of them are routine business practices. Others are under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission, Congress and federal courts.
Here they are:
Did Pfizer’s tactics work? Though Lipitor sales dropped from $9.6 billion in 2011 to $3.9 billion in 2012, a 60 percent decrease, the company’s chief executive said its record-breaking drug was adding “hundreds of millions of dollars of profitability to the company.”
But while Pfizer continued to reap profits, the AARP study concludes, its approach came at the expense of consumers, Medicare and Medicaid, employers that offer health plans, pharmacies and insurance companies.
“Strategies that hinder competition, like those reportedly employed by Pfizer, are harmful to consumers and all payers responsible for purchasing prescription drugs,” said Debra Whitman, AARP Executive Vice President for Policy, Strategy and International Affairs. “We’re hopeful these strategies are not a model for the future.”
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