Photo: Boots McKenzie
The pharmaceutical industry is still a multi-billion dollar behemoth, but name-brand drug companies are struggling to compete as cheaper copycat versions of their blockbuster pills fly off the shelves. Pfizer is the latest player in the name-brand drug game to feel the pressure, telling its investors on Tuesday that it might introduce a generic version of its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor, Reuters reported.
The news came days after EvaluatePharma predicted that Pfizer would be knocked from its top spot in the pharmaceutical market by current No. 2 Sanofi-Aventis as soon as its patent for Lipitor dries up at the end of November.
Without patent protection, it’ll be a free-for-all for any generic drug company, such as Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals, to start pushing out cheaper versions of Lipitor to consumers for a fraction of the current price.
Any time a copycat version of big-name drugs hits the market, it’s great news for penny-pinchers trying to juggle chronic health issues with a dwindling budget. Already, sales from generics are set to dwarf those of brand name drugs by 2015, cutting back their market share to 53%, Pharma Health forecasts.
And generics companies stand to really rack in the dough if predictions hold up. Teva is expected to see its profits balloon to $31 billion in the next four years, according to EvaluatePharma.
Overall, consumers could stand to save as much as $120 billion by 2015, with the U.S. leading the pack in generic drug expansions in developed markets.
Just don’t expect generic Lipitor anytime soon. Pharmaceutical companies have armies of attorneys charged with the task of suing the pants off of any generics company that tries to copy their drugs, even if their patents have expired.
A possible Lipitor knockoff is the latest bit of good news for consumers concerned by the cost of health care. President Obama issued an order Friday to clamp down on price gouging by pharmaceutical companies.