Name Brand Statins Compete With Discounts and Samples

Cholesterol-lowering medications are a huge pharmaceutical market, dominated by statins.  Several statins are now available in generic form, but there remain three big nongeneric players–Lipitor, Crestor and Vytorin.  (Vytorin is a combination product, but does include a statin.)

Of course, each pharmaceutical company touts reasons why their drug should be chosen, and health care providers commonly recommend one of these three when cholesterol goals cannot be reached with a generic.

We can soon expect insurers to prefer Lipitor through co-pay tiering, as its patent is set to expire first.  Until that time, each company is promoting appeal for their product by way of cost.

  • All three companies offer a 30-day free trial and provide free samples profusely to physicians.
  • Crestor and Lipitor also offer savings cards.  Currently, Crestor’s program drops monthly out-of-pocket expense to $25, and Lipitor’s provides a co-pay discount of up to $15 per month.  (As with all pharmaceutical savings promotions, there are limitations on who can use them.)

Don’t be surprised if the discounts improve further.

Expect to soon see even greater efforts from Pfizer to squeeze everything they can out of Lipitor sales before it goes off patent.  Its two competitors are certainly also planning on incentives to counter insurers’ inevitable push toward the looming Lipitor generic.

The good news for consumers is that costs for these products should soon drop significantly.

Stand back and watch the fight.

Stephen Meyers, MD

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Vytorin, Crestor and Lipitor are registered trademarks, respectively, of MSP Singapore Company, LLC., the AstraZeneca group of companies and Pfizer, Inc.



Filed under High Cholesterol

2 responses to “Name Brand Statins Compete With Discounts and Samples

  1. Joe

    It’s nice that the Lipitor copay is being dropped by $15 for some, but when your insurance company won’t even give you access to Lipitor in the first place, a $15 price reduction means nothing. Pfizer priced itself right out of the playing field for our company. Thanks a bunch, Pfizer.

  2. MedSavingsDoc


    Yes, you are correct that the savings cards are usually of no help if there is not already some partial coverage of costs.

    Co-pay tiers were developed by insurance plans and employers in an attempt to reign in rising pharmaceutical expenses. Choosing a medication that was less costly for the insurer rewarded the consumer with a lower co-payment.

    Pharmaceutical companies subsequently came up with the savings cards in an attempt to defeat the tiering system–the discounts reduced out-of-pocket costs to the tune of “preferred” products.

    This has now forced many insurance plans and employers to drop coverage altogether for many branded drugs. I’m sorry to hear that such is the case with your company in regard to Lipitor.

    Know that sometimes a seemingly noncovered statin will in fact be covered if certain criteria are met. Most frequent is the requirement that a person “fail” or have a bad experience with a generic statin. Sometimes it simply requires that the care provider answer some preauthorization questions. Insurers will also occasionally grant exceptions for people who have written a letter to justify why a particular statin should be covered in their situation.

    Fortunately, generic statins accomplish the intended goal for most individuals, but there still are some people who need the branded medications and have a very difficult time affording them.

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