Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Patent Expires On Best Selling Drug of All Time

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the low-cholesterol-for-everyone dept.

Businesses 491

Hugh Pickens writes "The U.S. patent has just expired on Lipitor, the best-selling drug of all time, as the first generic versions go on sale, marking the end of a brand that has dominated the drug industry, lowered the cholesterol of tens of millions of patients, and generated $10.7 billion last year in annual sales. But drug manufacturer Pfizer, dependent on Lipitor for almost one-fifth of the company's revenue, does not intend to go down without a fight. Pfizer is employing unprecedented tactics to hold onto as many Lipitor prescriptions as it can with an aggressive marketing plan and forging deals with insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and patients to meet or beat the price of its generic replacements because even at the lower price, Pfizer has a huge profit margin because of the relatively low cost of materials for Lipitor. Some deals require pharmacies to reject prescriptions for low-cost generics and substitute a discounted name-brand Lipitor while other deals block generic makers from mail-order services that account for an estimated 40 percent of all Lipitor prescriptions. 'Pfizer's tactic of dressing up as a generics company is pulling the rug under the incentive system created to foster the development of generic drugs,' says attorney David A. Balto."

cancel ×

491 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221222)

My ass. you grant a monopoly to someone. That someone gets big on that monopoly. You think that they would just let it go when patent expires ? think again. has music industry let it go with copyrights ? no, they are trying to extend it to 120 years now. pfizer is just another example. bad example though - they could just lobby beforehand and try to extend patent durations, like music industry does with copyrights.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (-1, Troll)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221268)

Patent stupidity - it has worked for Apple. Why should Pfizer not do the same?

Oh I see. They did not have Steve Jobs and his RDF to work it's magic on /. crowd.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (1, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221336)

One of the symptoms of being a haterade addict is that you bring it up in unrelated threads.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (-1, Troll)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221442)

> unrelated threads

This post is related to patents. GP I replied to mentioned patents. So yes, my comment has to be surely and utterly "unrelated".

Anyway, so now that you have called me a hater means I can call you Apple's bitch, right? (See? It works both ways.)

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (-1, Troll)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221506)

Your post was related to fanboys and marketing..

Denial is another symptom.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (-1, Flamebait)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221604)

Oh I see - it was not about patents at all. I see. You are just on your knees (a very comfortable position for a fanboi though).

And to the serial downmodding assholes, here is another comment to downmod - please continue.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221698)

You are just on your knees (a very comfortable position for a fanboi though). ... And to the serial downmodding assholes...

*Smirk*

You remind me of a friend I had that wrote me a three page email about how carpal tunnel was killing him.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221538)

Oh no, someone brought up Apple in a patent discussion, Apple doesn't have patents or litigate using patents and has never benefited from patents in any way so clearly bringing them up in a discussion on patents means they must be a hater of Apple, and you aren't allowed to do that.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221556)

Hey E IS mC(Square), you accidentally clicked 'Post Anonymously' when you wrote that!

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221402)

They did not have Steve Jobs and his RDF to work it's magic on /. crowd.

I'm sure you think so [xkcd.com]

Pfizer spends alot on doctors paying them to write (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221580)

Pfizer spends alot on doctors paying them to write scripts for pfizer drugs.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221292)

Yes, they do. Being able to get sole rightrs on the drug is why tneya re invented. It can cost mollions of dollars.

And this article is much ado about nothing. Patent is expiring, company ups advertising and lowers price.

BFD

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Interesting)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221340)

More often than not, they are "invented" based on research done at universities; including publicly funded ones. We should be cutting the middle-man and funding those projects more, rather than creating artificial property to encourage corporations to "invent" drugs.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221410)

It's not a patent problem it's an anti-trust problem. Please adjust your 'fixit' suggestions accordingly.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221420)

This bears only the most tenuous connection to the truth. Yes, the cholesterol synthesis pathway came out of a lot of university research. HMG-CoA reductase is a critical enzyme. There are a lot of compounds that will inhibit enzymes in vitro; the vast majority are utterly unsuited to use as anything but research compounds because they aren't safe, can't be made into an orally bioavailable form, have bad kinetics, or any of a thousand other things that can sink a potential drug.

Drugs come from... drug companies, not from universities, because drug companies have the billions of dollars to put a compound through clinical trials and the expertise to make the drugs usable.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221638)

You don't need patents to commercialize medicine. With the exception of clinical trials, everything could be done in a free market just as well (and did; aspirin was invented in Germany but couldn't be patented there; in fact in the early part of the 20th century, before Germany and France allowed drug and chemical patents, they were the center of innovation in those fields.)

Clinical trials are like a public good, and all things told society would maximize its wealth by ditching patents and funding clinical trials with taxes. A very good read on the myths of copyright and patents is "Against Intellectual Monopoly".

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Informative)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221712)

Nope. Drug targets come out of universities. But drug targets are a dime a dozen. The real expense is in clinical trials, and that is paid by drug companies in almost all cases. When the cost is shared the university gets part of the patent.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221342)

company creates predatory agreements with insurance agencies and pharmacies that restrict selling of generic versions - thats EVIL.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221354)

Exactly. This is how it is *supposed* to work. Why are people complaining if the price is dropping and Pfizer can still make a buck on it? Everyone wins.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221378)

Except all the people who lost, up until today.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221550)

Who lost? Anyone that would have waited for Pfizer to come up with a viable drug, then simply ripped it off and sold it for a few dollars since they didn't have to undergo the extreme risk of developing safe and useful drugs?

Patents have a place. This is an excellent example of why.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (1)

OCedHrt (1001533) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221626)

Using well known Intel tactics.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (4, Interesting)

alienzed (732782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221628)

I don't care what it costs, people will do the research anyway because they know someone or themselves are afflicted with the condition. I just don't buy that we'll stop innovating if patents and copyrights disappear. There will still be profit to be made and there will still be incentive to make that profit. The only difference is that competition will drive down prices and drive up quality. How can you have capitalism AND government granted monopolies at the same time? It doesn't make sense.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (3, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221332)

Phizer has, no doubt, efficient large scale production processes in place for atorvastatin. If they can produce and sell it for less than companies which focus on generics, more power to them. How is this bad for the consumer?

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221482)

If they want to outbid generics on price, nothing's wrong with that. But those agreements mentioned in TFS, where pharmacies must only prescribe their offering - that sounds rather anti-competitive to me.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (5, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221484)

Patents by design grant a TEMPORARY monopoly to cover the cost of R&D and to provide incentive for companies to actually do the R& D in the first place.

The problem with the drug industry is that in order to comply with the regulatory quagmire that is the FDA, they have to disclose essential details about their work publicly long before it can go to market. Hence patents must be acquired long before the drug can make any money. These days drugs cost literally billions of dollars to develop. Burning patent life during the R&D time robs the companies of profits they would have earned, driving up costs for the consumer as they must raise prices in order to recoup R&D expenses in the shortened time the product is on the market under patent. Remember, these drugs save lives and directly improve the quality of life for potentially billions of people. These same people will eventually get reduced cost access to the drug when it goes generic off patent.

Contrast this with the entertainment industry: Anyone can pen an idiotic ditty for virtually nothing, in basically no time at all. The product merely provides people with fleeting, momentary amusement. No lives are saved, no diseases cured. Even the biggest, most expensive blockbuster movie costs a fraction of what it cost to bring lipitor to market..

Now unless you're an idiotic, dirty, lazy hippie who thinks everything should be free, you will have to admit that unless people are going to get paid, there is no way they are going to spend all that time and effort on drug development even if the end result means lives are saved. After all they have mouths to feed, mortgages to pay, etc, and the pharmaceutical industry is one of the few areas left in the US consistently providing high paying jobs to smart, motivated and educated people.

Turns out the profit motive is a terrific way to get people to do useful things. Who'da thunk that people were willing to work so hard in order to get ahead. Amazing, isn't it?

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (3, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221562)

ALL TEMPORARY MONOPOLIES try to turn themselves into PERMANENT MONOPOLIES.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221612)

YAY CAPS! Someone should learn HTML.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221704)

Key word being try. We don't have to let them. And we certainly shouldn't overreact by abolishing IP entirely.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (2)

OCedHrt (1001533) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221680)

Would fixed ROI based regulated pricing increase accessibility and reduce consumer costs?

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (2, Funny)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221724)

> Now unless you're an idiotic, dirty, lazy hippie who thinks everything should be free, you will have to admit that unless people are going to get paid, there is no way they are going to spend all that time and effort on drug development even if the end result means lives are saved.

I was going to mod you down as troll/flamebait since you seem to be an ignorant greedy capitalist but that wouldn't encourage people to actually discuss and raise above this ignorance. Namely,

a) you are generalizing and making claims without any justification or evidence that:

i) hippies are idiotic, (Oh No! Some people think that there is MORE to life then just money. How idiotic of them for wanting to share!)

ii) _only_ hippies think everything should be free, (You _do_ realize that animals have lived on this planet millions of years without "paying" anyone. The universe provides everything you need to exist -- it is only greedy capitalists unable to imagine a world without money.)

b) that altruism is idiotic, (You _have_ heard of Philanthropy, right? I guess no one does anything for the betterment of mankind for free.)

c) that is is OK to put a price on saving a human life. (i.e. "Sorry, you can't afford this drug -- you deserve to die.")

> Turns out the profit motive is a terrific way to get people to do useful things. Who'da thunk that people were willing to work so hard in order to get ahead. Amazing, isn't it?

Now I don't disagree with you that, yes, money provides a great incentive, but thankfully dinosaurs that think money is the _only_ way to motivate people are dying. The problem with big pharma is that basically it only caters to those who can afford to live, or put another away, it sends the message that "you only have the right to life IF you can afford it." I'm sorry but EVERYONE has the right to life, regardless of the cost. It is only an idiotic system that places different values on people's lives -- namely those that can afford to not die. Sorry, but one day you will grow up and realize that the only humane way is to _remove_ PROFITING from people dieing.

Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221744)

> These days drugs cost literally billions of dollars to develop

Yes, and it costs billions of dollars to develop other stuff too. I'm sick and tired of these stupid pro-patent arguments. Specifically related to medical companies.

Numbers are from 2010 annual reports. Just Google them.

Pfizer spent this % of their revenue on R&D:
2008: 16.5%
2009: 15.7%
2010: 16.5%

AMD spent this % of their revenue on R&D:
2008: 31.8%
2009: 31.8%
2010: 21.6%

I don't see Pfizer pouring their last coins on R&D to cure humanity. I see greedy idiots conning the rest of us with bad arguments.

Patents must die. Now.

Choosing the correct tactics (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221224)

At least Pfizer isn't trying to unreasonably extend the patent, sue its customers, or use other underhanded tricks to cheat the system at the expense of everyone else.

Unlike some other...companies.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (5, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221372)

I'm unclear here. Since when did pharmacists suddenly get the right to override a doctor's prescription? How can Pfizer actually get a pharmacist to sign an exclusivity agreement.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (1)

chinakow (83588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221516)

Well I would guess that when a doctor checks the, 'Generics okay,' box, that means that the pharmacist can fill the prescription with any drug that has the same active ingredient(and purpose and a raft of other prerequisites that I am unaware of). The choosing a more expensive option part is when the ethics get weird.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221546)

I've seen it done with my prescription although it was the other way around. Once a generic was available my pharmacy switched me to it. I believe they just bitch to the doctor's secretary or the doctor until they get the go-ahead.

As far as signing an exclusivity agreement I think it comes down to the drugs the pharmacy chooses to order and/or stock. It's inconceivable to think that a pharmacy can carry every drug under the sun.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (3, Informative)

dlevitan (132062) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221560)

I'm unclear here. Since when did pharmacists suddenly get the right to override a doctor's prescription? How can Pfizer actually get a pharmacist to sign an exclusivity agreement.

Pharmacists don't override a doctor's prescription. Lipitor is the brand name of the drug Atorvastatin, which was developed by Pfizer. A prescription is for Atorvastatin (or Lipitor, whatever the doctor) writes down, but the drug is the same whether or not is was made by Pfizer (and called Lipitor) or by a different company (and called atorvastatin). Pfizer has simply made exclusivity agreements that pharmacies would not sell generic versions of atorvastatin. This might be bad for the consumer (price-wise, not health-wise), but they can always go to a different pharmacy if theirs refuses to sell the generic.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221648)

What incentive does the pharmacy have to sign these deals?

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (1)

grim4593 (947789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221656)

What makes that interesting is that a lot of time time insurance companies refuse to pay for non-generic versions of medicines if a generic version is available.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221598)

Pharmacy techs here in Canada have full right to offer a generic or brand even against the doctors orders, as long as it's chemically identical to the drug prescribed.
That's one of the benefits of a nation wide healthcare program that subsides drugs to some extent, they're always on the lookout to save a few more dollars.

AFAIK: (I'm not an American, so this is simply "as told to me by a pharmacy tech friend of mine in the states") The Pharmacy (not the tech) can choose to replace a brand with a generic, if it will save them money. If the buyer so chooses to purchase the brand name out of pocket (Health plans come with their own restrictions) he's free to do so.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (3, Informative)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221644)

The Pharmacist can in the States... and they can also pay a large sum of money for a license that actually allows them to "write" prescriptions as well. Pharmacy Techs are really nothing more than take the script, pass the script on (maybe count the pills), tell you it's ready, and ring you out.

My ex-gf went to the University of Pittsburgh for Pharmacology so I got to learn quite a bit about how it all works (and learned more in organic chem than I'd like to or ever had to seeing as I went IT)

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221768)

It gets somewhat complicated for that reason. If you want to know if a medication is safe to take with something else the pharmacist is your best bet. They'll know more than you could ever possibly want to know about those things and are worth listening to when they disagree with a doctor about combining medications.

That being said, they don't necessarily know that a particular person only has a reaction to the generic option of a medication and really shouldn't be making that sort of substitution without permission. Such things are much more likely to be reported to the doctor directly.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221608)

Replace with a generic, seems quite ok.

I'm still fail to understand why a client would keep going to a phamacy that have more expensive medicines. Or is Pfizer using dirtier tricks to get pharmacies to sign (like offering discounts on other medicines only if they sign).

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221800)

Standards, the FDA doesn't have the time to inspect all the foreign pharmaceutical lines to the same extent that they inspect the American ones, and the difference is pretty significant. Also, just because a medication is generic does not guarantee that the body will react to it the same way that it reacts to the name brand. It's definitely not common, but it does happen from time to time and most of the time it's because the pills aren't really identical.

That being said, the ultimate reason is that unless one has no insurance one has no meaningful idea as to the cost of the medicine as they pay the same cost either way.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221636)

When the doctor does not specifically state Dispense As Written, or specifies a chemical name instead of a brand name, pharmacists can legally substitute generics at the patients request. Pharmacies do not always carry every single drug.

Most Docs will not limit prescriptions to a brand name unless there is a medical reason for doing so.

Re:Choosing the correct tactics (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221554)

Quoting the Summary:

Pfizer is employing unprecedented tactics to hold onto as many Lipitor prescriptions as it can with an aggressive marketing plan and forging deals with insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and patients to meet or beat the price of its generic replacements

As long as the Meet or Beat tactic is used I fail to see the problem. If a pharmacy can get a better price on the original Lipitor, make a profit and still beat the generic price fine by me.

Even if the pharmacy has to sign an exclusivity agreement and not carry the generic but still gets to beat the price, fine.

Not every pharmacy carries every drug, and doctors often allow substitutions,. generic or otherwise. In fact they are encouraged to NOT prescribe brand name drugs. Some states [state.il.us] limit this specifically for patients under state programs.

Most drugs that have widely accepted generic equivalences are no longer routinely prescribed with the stipulation of Dispense As Written (DAW), because it raises a red flags with insurance companies and is often a financial burden on patients.

retro active. (0)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221228)

re patenting in 3. 2. 1.

YAY (0)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221230)

I'd jump with joy, but I might get an aneurysm.

What? (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221236)

A patent is going to expire. The company responds with marketing and by lowering it's price.

That's just horrid~ Someone is working to hard to find ills.

What's that? there are going to create a generic version of the drug they created? OMG!!1!!!

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221312)

It does show how much they were raping the system and users, their cost have not gone down but wow its now much much much cheaper and yet they will still turn a profit

let me shed a tear for them.

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221426)

NO one is shedding any tears. Iw as simply stating there is no story hee.

And making a lot of money is a fair trade off for the amount of science they do, and the number of new drugs.

Now it's expiring, and it will be cheaper.

I would like to point out that the article has a lot of statements from the author with nothing to support them.

The story her, if there really is one, is how the generic companies are whining they won't be able to compete with the lower prices.
The point of generics was a low cost alternative. It' it's already low cost, they go away.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221488)

Exactly. They never should have been allowed to create the drug or sell it in the first place. The whole idea of "whoever does the work is the one who should get the reward" is evil. Pharma companies should not be allowed to engage in research, earn profit, or do anything except bleed money into the pockets of lawyers and socialists. Anyone should be able to simultaneously cash in on another company's research and sue that company. Drugs happen by magic, and don't tell me otherwise; effort has nothing to do with it. Screw people with high cholesterol, they're old while entitlement-driven people are young, it doesn't affect the young so to hell with anyone except the young. I'm ENTITLED.

May you die of a heart attack for want of an effective drug.

Re:What? (1)

alienzed (732782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221642)

Do you really think that Pfizer did ALL the work necessary to come up with that drug? Did they create the instruments, develop the process, invent the chemicals? No one gets anywhere alone, it's time the economy started to reflect that.

Re:What? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221686)

Exactly. They never should have been allowed to create the drug or sell it in the first place. The whole idea of "whoever does the work is the one who should get the reward" is evil. Pharma companies should not be allowed to engage in research, earn profit, or do anything except bleed money into the pockets of lawyers and socialists. Anyone should be able to simultaneously cash in on another company's research and sue that company. Drugs happen by magic, and don't tell me otherwise; effort has nothing to do with it. Screw people with high cholesterol, they're old while entitlement-driven people are young, it doesn't affect the young so to hell with anyone except the young. I'm ENTITLED.

May you die of a heart attack for want of an effective drug.

Which variety of organ failure is it that you would prefer to die from?

Re:What? (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221740)

Lead deficiency.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221338)

That's what I would like to know.
I actually don't see anything wrong here.

They are actually working to keep their hold on a product that is now out of patent.
The patent system is still the thing at fault for encouraging laziness.

Re:What? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221388)

A patent is going to expire. The company responds with marketing and by lowering it's price.

That's just horrid~ Someone is working to hard to find ills.

What's that? there are going to create a generic version of the drug they created? OMG!!1!!!

I doubt it's the lower price people have a problem with. It's more likely it's the insurance deals where the instance will refuse to pay for the generic version.Or the part where they want to block mail order generics.

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221660)

The company responds with marketing and by lowering it's price.

Right, but they're not lowering their price as much as the generic. They're negotiating deals with your insurance company so your co-pay for the name brand will be lower than generics, even though the rate the insurance company actually pays for brand-name Lipitor would be higher than the generic, so you save $5 on a copay but the insurance risk pool loses $50, because the drug company is insulating you from the underlying costs and distorting your buying decision.

It's classic drug company tactic- they'll hand out "coupons" or "drug benefit cards" that defray the excess cost of a brand-name copay over a generic copay, so if your brand-name copay on a drug is $40 and the generic is $15, Pfizer will pay you the $25 difference to buy the brand name. They can afford the difference because they're probably profiting over $100 on the bottle, you just don't see the cost to your insurance company at the point-of-sale, it gets turned into higher premiums. It's a big part of why prescription drug insurance is so expensive in the US, several states have banned manufacturer drug coupons and This American Life [thisamericanlife.org] did a whole episode on it a year or two ago.

Re:What? (1)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221772)

I agree, lowering prices is not a crime. Aren't they also using their market clout to write deals that don't allow their competitors? I didn't read TFA, but that is what I took this sentence to mean: " Some deals require pharmacies to reject prescriptions for low-cost generics and substitute a discounted name-brand Lipitor while other deals block generic makers from mail-order services that account for an estimated 40 percent of all Lipitor prescriptions." Lowering prices, good, fair, fine. Anti-competitive deals, not so much. Why the quote from David A. Balto is so lame, who knows. Again I didn't read THA.

"Free" Marketplace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221242)

We don't need any regulations the free market will take care of this in 3, 2, 1...... heheheheh

Re:"Free" Marketplace (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221670)

The free market just kicked in. The drug companies are now playing meet or beat. Translation: competition works.
What's wrong with that?

The problem existed PRIOR to the patent expiring, where artificially high prices existed.
Go tinker with that set of rules if you dare, but don' blame the free market just because prices
come down the minute the market actually becomes free.

Capitalism (3)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221246)

Hey, they are just taking care of their stockholders Nothing wrong with it, right?

Capitalism, it just works, bitches.

Re:Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221514)

Yes, and without the financial incentives we wouldn't have half the drugs we have (or the developments in any other sector of business). I know it's fun to bash profits, but nothing inspires people better.

Re:Capitalism (2)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221558)

Well, I know, and I am not against the idea of money as incentive. But that, in no way, can justify immoral, unethical, psychopathic behavior of corporations in name of profit, and it can never be used to defend anything.

I have seen this "but they are answerable only to their stockholders" (i.e. capitalism) argument here on slashdot more than enough to make my blood boil.

Profit can never be allowed at the expense of person or society or humanity.

In other news (5, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221248)

Today Pfizer announced results of a new study showing that cholesterol has nothing to do with any health problems whatsoever, but water can kill you. Simultaneously they announced the start of trials of a new drug to control this menace, tentatively named hydroprofitor.

Re:In other news (3, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221472)

More likely they will "invest research capital" into the "vastly superior" "lipitor HCl" or similar.

This is a comon practice in the pharmacutical industry. Create a game changing drug, then milk it *FOREVER*, by tacking on a medically useless functional group to change the molecule enough to file for a new patent, covering the entire chemical family.

Re:In other news (4, Informative)

mirix (1649853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221564)

Yep. The first one that comes to mind is claritin.

From what I remember, claritin is a... prodrug? - it metabolises to something else in vivo. So when they patent expired, they started marketing the metabolite instead, which they got a new patent on.

I've heard of other cases where drugs, previously a mix of L and R isomers became generic, so they launched a new drug with just one of the isomers.

Kind of nauseating, really.

Loratadine was eventually approved by the FDA in 1993.[2] It accounted for 28% of Schering's total sales[citation needed]. The drug continued to be available only by prescription in the U.S. until it went off patent in 2002.[citation needed] It was then immediately approved for over-the-counter sales. Once it became an unpatented over-the-counter drug, the price dropped precipitously, and insurance companies no longer paid for it. In response, Schering launched an expensive advertising campaign to convince users to switch to desloratadine (descarboethoxyloratadine, trade name Clarinex), which is the active metabolite of loratadine. A 2003 study comparing the two drugs found that "There is no clinical advantage to switching a patient from loratadine to desloratadine.

Re:In other news (2)

mirix (1649853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221684)

Sorry for self reply,
My recollection of chemistry is rather shit, so i bungled that. enantiomer. that's the word.

I'll let wiki tell about the isomer differentiated drugs, there are some specific examples there too.

"Enantiopure_drug" [wikipedia.org]

Re:In other news (1)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221602)

And with enough studies they can even claim that it works better! (by 4% in 3 of 400 studies conducted).

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221634)

You think you are making a joke, but the EU last week made a court ruling that if you claim bottled water can prevent dehydration you will go to jail for up to 2 years.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2065204/Dehydration-EU-says-CANT-claim-drinking-water-stops-body-drying-out.html

It took them 3 years of research to come up with that decision. Now how stupid are patents in the US again?

Wait, what? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221264)

>Some deals require pharmacies to reject prescriptions for low-cost generics

This is illegal on its face.

--
BMO

Re:Wait, what? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221444)

And probably not true.

Since companies making money creating drugs using cutting edge science that save lives are evil villains now, people can make any stupid out of context statement and people believe it.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221632)

This is a giant multinational corporation, just because it sells drugs doesn't make it good. Haven't you read Halloween documents? Jobs views on Android? it's all the same, we just don't hear as much about it as most of /. works in IT, not pharma (also pharma was doing it for longer so they're better at it).

Protect profits over public health. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221276)

Damn public! how dare they want affordable drugs for healthcare!!!!

Re:Protect profits over public health. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221320)

Because R&D on new drugs is free, right?

Sometimes I wonder if the turtleneck brigade has any understanding of economics beyond a whine of "but it is not FAIR"

Re:Protect profits over public health. (0)

Tyrannosaur (2485772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221540)

Thank you! An anonymous coward smarter than the occupiers. I applaud you :)

Best Selling Drug? (0)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221290)

Generic cocaine now?

Re:Best Selling Drug? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221464)

I'm surprised it's not the one responsible for the other four-fifths of Pfizer's revenue: Viagra.

Patent vs Copyright (5, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221294)

So, if congress has been able to withstand the lobbying for indefinite patents, given the massive amount of money on the line as indicated by this single drug patent, how come they fold to the likes of Disney when it comes to copyright? Maybe it's the cuteness of the cartoon characters.

Re:Patent vs Copyright (4, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221356)

It's simple.... insurance companies have more lobbyists than pharmaceuticals. And insurance companies like generic drugs, because it lowers their costs, and increases profit of the insurance co..

Re:Patent vs Copyright (3, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221412)

As a rule, politicians are white, elitist, and rich.

White rich elitists tend to eat overly calorific foods, that cause high cholesterol.

As such, I would not be surprised if many politicians have scripts for cholesterol, hypertension, and liver disorders.

Getting between your meal ticket and his life sustaining medications is not good PR.

Compare to copyright, which is not life threatening or life regulating (at least once you pass a certain income bracket. Ahem) you can clearly spot the reasons why, aside from insider trading and the like, politicians don't get lobbied for quite the same things from the pharmecutical giants the same way they get lobbied for copyright extensions from big media.

If you throw in the more tinfoil hat type thinking about the control of information and culture that makes the public easier to police and control, I think you have a winner.

Re:Patent vs Copyright (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221758)

The group you mentioned already has so much money, they would simply eat the cost if that means getting bribes in return. Even if no bribing occurred, it's only a minor cost relative to their income and pool of wealth. So ya, don't expect the politicians to bitch and moan about the personal costs of well, anything in life really.

Re:Patent vs Copyright (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221434)

Because those are two different thing.

Buy Lipitrex! (1, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221324)

Save! Save! Save! Operators standing by! Call now! 1-800-DOT-COMM to place your order!

Ugh. I can just hear the wretched radio adverts already...

Blip in history ends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221326)

Brief, government monopoly blip of control over a standardized extract of an ancient Chinese medicine [wikipedia.org] comes to an end. There. Fixed that for you.

Re:Blip in history ends (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221398)

Atorvastatin is not one of the statins found in Red Rice not do Pfizer's patents affect the use or sale of Red Rice in the US.

HUUGE PROFIT MARGIN (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221328)

They have a huge profit margin because of the stunning breakthrough they funded when they backed Bruce Roth.

Roth first synthesized atorvastatin in 1985. For the discovery, he received the 1997 Warner-Lambert Chairman's Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award, the 1999 Inventor of the Year Award from the New York Intellectual Property Law Association, the 2003 American Chemical Society Award for Creative Invention, the 2003 Gustavus John Esselen Award for Chemistry in the Public Service, the 2005 Iowa State University Distinguished Alumni Award, and the 2006 Pfizer Global Research and Development Achievement Award.

Roth was named a 2008 Hero of Chemistry by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Re:HUUGE PROFIT MARGIN (2)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221696)

Wait, he won inventor of the year in 1999 for something he invented in 1985?

I don't see the problem.. they are competing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221404)

They found a drug that helped people's health, sold it for massive profit while the patent lasted - working as expected.

Patent expires, they start to compete against the generic makers based on price - working as intended.

Patients get the drug at a cheaper price. Generic drug makers who expected to make a bunch of profit suffer.. who cares?

The profit either goes to A or B, as long as the system incentivizes the discovery of more drugs it's working fine.

What's amazing is how they extended the patent (4, Informative)

jader3rd (2222716) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221414)

Phizer was able to extend the drug by getting new patents on it. Then for these past few months they paid off the generic drug makers to not create generics for the drug. A scheme known as "pay for delay". Heard about it yesterday on Marketplace and was shocked to hear that a generic drug company has to go to court after the patent has expried to official unexpire it. "This is the government policy, set up in the 1980s, to bring us lower drug prices." http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/lipitor-makes-way-generics [marketplace.org]

What..? (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221416)

If Pfizer is offering Lipitor cheaply, what's the problem? Seriously, unless the goal is to actively punish companies that create drugs and bear the cost of research and the risk of scum-sucking tort lawyers, let Pfizer compete, and if their pricing is competitive, more power (and market share) to them.

If the goal is to say "once patents expire, the originating company is never again permitted to sell their invention", just say so and try to justify it.

Re:What..? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221452)

This is just a short term market manipulation which will let Pfizer maintain some of its profit over the next six months. As more generic manufacturers enter the market the price will drop to the point where it won't be worth while for them to continue this strategy.

Everybody wins! (1)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221468)

They should talk to Groupon!

Best selling drug patent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221614)

I didn't know there was even a patent on weed. I'll probably still stick with the name brands, though.

Great, more incentive for doctors to overprescribe (2)

Fished (574624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221640)

I'm pretty much convinced that Lipitor is a scam, along with the whole "cholesterol" theory. This will just lead to more drug-laden zombies, and more overprescription for perfectly healthy people.

Re:Great, more incentive for doctors to overprescr (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221762)

I can't tell if you're serious or being sarcastic.

So does this mean (1)

CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221706)

Without patents things would be any better? Ooops.

Actos is next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221718)

Actos is the next medicine to be manipulated away. Set to become generic next summer and I predict it will not happen.

Trrolkore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221776)

moan5 and groans to the transmission Don't be a sling see... The number

Isn't Lipitor kin to Skeletor? (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221794)

I thought Lipitor was a character in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Wasn't he Skeletor's brother, the one with high cholesterol?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?