Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The world’s best-selling prescription drug is going generic.
The top-selling cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor is about to get cheaper and that will be a big help to the millions of Americans who take it.
“I’m on fixed income and I imagine I’ll be taking it for the rest of my life,” Audrey Saltzman said.
The patent on the medication ended on Nov. 30, meaning generic equivalents will now be welcome in the marketplace.
“People tend to be afraid that by choosing a generic they are somehow getting an inferior medication and that’s really just not the case,” Dr. Tara Narula said.
“The generic has been tested by the FDA, so they have to prove it is bioequivalent to the brand name, it does work the exact same way, same side effect profile,” Paul Higginbotham said.
Drug maker Pfizer is hoping to lessen its financial losses by enticing consumers to stick with Lipitor. It’s offering the brand name drug at a discount at a $4 co-pay, which is less than the co-pay for many generic prescriptions. Pfizer’s six-month tactic is making it hard for generic drug manufacturers to match the low cost.
Lipitor was the first medicine to earn $10 billion a year, which is a quarter of Pfizer’s revenue over the past 10 years.
Government programs like Medicare will not pay for discounted brand name Lipitor, because the discounts could violate laws against kickbacks.