December 20, 2011

Generic Lipitor is Finally Here! But is it Cheaper?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 11:48 am by keepyourhearthealthy

Image representing Pfizer as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Many heart disease patients have waited years for the option of a cheaper Lipitor.  Now that the generic is being sold in pharmacies throughout the country, is it really providing the benefit of being a lower-cost option?

With Lipitor being a widely prescribed drug for heart di

sease patients, the concept of a cheaper version has been a long time coming.  Lipitor (atorvastatin) has avoided going generic for over 20 years by using big money to fund new studies and fight generic companies in court.  Pfizer, Lipitor’s manufacturer promised that they were really going to let it go generic this year.  It did indeed go generic just this past week!

News reports have stated that Lipitor’s sales have fallen by 50% just in this first week of generic availability.  However, other reports (an article in the New England Journal of Medicine) have brought up concerns over Pfizer’s tactics to compete with the new generic.  Deals have been struck between Pfizer and some large pharmacies to allow for Lipitor to be sold cheaper than it’s own generic!!

Currently there is only one generic available but after 6 months there will hopefully be more competition from other manufacturers.  The more generic pills available to the public would mean lower prices for everyone!  For now though, you may want to recheck the price of Lipitor at your pharmacy.  Many people are just automatically filling their prescription for the generic without actually discovering the new price of Lipitor.  While Pfizer’s tactics may be somewhat questionable, saving a few dollars in this tough economy is a top priority for many!

August 7, 2011

Generic Lipitor set to be Available in November!

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:32 am by keepyourhearthealthy

A package and pill of atorvastatin 40mg (Lipitor).

Image via Wikipedia

Lipitor’s 26-year reign over the statin brand-name market may soon come to an end when it’s generic equivalent starts selling in November.

Cardiologists and primary care physicians all throughout the country have long awaited a cheaper version of the “biggest selling drug of all time.”  According to the Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog, Lipitor will be sold in a generic version by a company called Ranbaxy starting November 30, 2011.  Lipitor’s manufacturer, Pfizer, has been able to put off the production of a generic by continually extending it’s patent for Lipitor.  They found new indications for the drug which allowed for more and more patent extensions.  Not to mention they have put plenty of money and effort in the legal battle over the rights to produce a generic.  There is even some talk now about Pfizer legally trying to make Lipitor over-the-counter (highly unlikely!).

Lipitor, generic name atorvastatin, was originally used for treating high cholesterol.  It inhibits a liver enzyme which usually signals production of more cholesterol for the body.  Over time, it was found to prevent cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke.  It is now also indicated for preventing heart attacks in people who already have heart disease.  Regardless of cholesterol numbers, patients who have a heart attack will be placed on a statin like Lipitor as a means of preventing a second heart attack.

Other statin generics have been available for years now.  Zocor’s generic (simvastatin) and Pravachol’s generic (pravastatin) have become very popular alternatives to Lipitor since they are much more affordable.  Most physicians will tell you that these alternatives are just not as effective for reducing cholesterol compared to Lipitor or the just-as-expensive brand name Crestor.  Clearly it is effectiveness that has kept Lipitor a top-selling drug in recent years.  In this time of economic stress though, many uninsured people have had no choice but to make the switch to the cheaper statins.  They simply cannot afford out-of-pocket Lipitor at $100 a month while simvastatin is only $15 a month and pravastatin is only $4 a month!

With this new generic Lipitor, atorvastatin could become just as cheap as the other generic statins.  Hopefully it will still maintain it’s effectiveness as well.  Ranbaxy will be the sole manufacturer of atorvastatin for the first 6 months which may mean continued higher pricing.  Once other manufacturers join in on the competition, we should see a very affordable generic for Lipitor emerge!

November 21, 2010

New Cholesterol Drug Increases HDL and Lowers LDL

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips tagged , , , , , , , at 2:34 am by keepyourhearthealthy

 

photo by Suat Eman

For several years now, the drug companies have been trying to discover the ultimate drug to increase HDL.

 

It’s just not that easy to increase your good cholesterol (HDL) with prescription drugs.  Right now, niacin is the best way to increase HDL but it has the significant drawback of skin flushing.  People who take niacin at first feel very hot and their skin may turn red like a temporary sunburn.

Given all the problems with niacin, a new class of drugs to increase HDL have been attempted on several occasions.  One of these new drugs has finally passed the phase 3 trials and may actually go on to FDA approval in the near future.  Anacetrapib is being manufactured and tested by Merck for treating dyslipidemia (high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol).  The studies so far are quite promising but many are weary.  Pfizer had a similar drug being tested in the same class of drugs but Pfizer’s drug was taken out of testing due to significant problems.

Cardiologists all over would love to have a better option for treating low HDL.  Right now though, we can only wait and see how the remaining trials work out for this promising new drug!

October 11, 2010

Does Your Lipitor Stink???

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:25 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

A package and pill of atorvastatin 40mg (Lipitor).

Image via Wikipedia

Recently a few people complained that their Lipitor stunk…literally!

Apparently there was a slight contamination of the Lipitor bottles leading to an unpleasant odor when the caps came off.  While the manufacturer, Pfizer, claims this contaminant is harmless, they did end up recalling nearly 200,000 bottles as a result of the complaints.

If you have a stinky bottle of Lipitor, you can return the bottle to your pharmacy and get a new one.  For more information about this recall and any other recalls, visit US Recalls.