Lipitor – and nine other blockbuster drugs that are falling off the ‘patent cliff’

Pfizer, the world’s biggest drug company, sells the world’s biggest brand name drug, Lipitor. According to those busy insiders at Fierce Pharma, this mega-blockbuster cholesterol drug won’t really face marketplace competition until 2011, even though one of the drug’s patents expires this year. And although Pfizer earned $11.4 billion in Lipitor sales last year, that total was a big drop compared to 2008’s $12.4 billion.

After a number of years in the marketplace (usually between 7-12 years in the U.S. and up to 20 years in Canada), a brand name drug’s exclusive patent protection expires, thus opening the market to competition from cheaper generic forms of the same drug.  And when generic drugs become available, the market competition often leads to much lower prices for both the original brand name drug and the generics.  Continue reading