What is Pfizer’s strategy to extend the Lipitor brand after patent expiration

Lipitor went off patent on November 30. IPBlog has looked at the patent cliff phenomenon from several perspectives, and now we can watch the results of Pfizer’s planned responses in real time. Here’s a look at the strategy some Wall Street analysts feel will extend the life of the Lipitor brand for at least 6 months and significantly moderate the effects of the patent cliff.

  1. Offer insured patients a discount card to purchase Lipitor for $4 a month (the average copayment for a brand-name drug is $25, $10 for a generic).
  2. Compensate pharmacists to extend the $4 offer to customers and continue an education program for pharmacists on the value of Lipitor.
  3. Continue market and sales support spend at last year’s pace.
  4. Increase concentration overseas. Pfizer still has some international patents on Lipitor in place, and Asian markets are growing.
  5. Reduce staff: 20,000 Pfizer employees have been laid off in the last two years.
  6. Reduce R&D expenses: analysts see a drop of $2B from 2010 to 2012.
  7. Use the blockbuster’s proceeds to acquire capacity (Pfizer bought Wyeth).
Pfizer’s management of the patent cliff is not without its critics.  Chief among them is Christopher Bower, a blogger for Harvard Business Review, who feels Pfizer failed to take advantage of its ownership of the best selling drug in history.