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Teva’s generic Lipitor set to save NHS millions

Cheap copy of Pfizer’s cholesterol launches in UK

Teva Pharmaceutical has launched the first generic Lipitor product to hit the UK market, as Pfizer's huge-selling cholesterol drug reaches its final patent expiries.

Israel-based generics company Teva said it has made available generic atorvastatin film-coated tablets in 10mg, 20mg, 40mg and 80mg strengths to be used in the treatment of high cholesterol and in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

The price of the drug will fall by up to 92 per cent, with the price of a 28-pill pack of generic 80mg atorvastatin set at £2.26 compared to the current price of £28.21 for the branded product, according to a report in Pulse.

Other doses will also be made available at a much reduced cost, with a 10mg pack set for 91p, and both 20mg and 40mg packs to cost the NHS £1.72.

The branded drug is currently available in these dosages at £13.00 and £24.64 respectively for a month's supply.

"Millions of prescriptions are written each year in the UK for atorvastatin, and the availability of the generic will save the NHS millions of pounds each year,” said Teva's commercial director Kim Innes.

“It and other patent expiries provide pharmacy the opportunities for increasing margins and keeping costs down, and also mean we at Teva continue to do our bit in saving the NHS over £9bn a year through the availability of generic medicines."

Research from Keele University had also previously predicted the low cost of atorvastatin would see doctors switch patients from alternative treatment simvastatin.

The UK marks one of the final markets for Lipitor to lose exclusivity, with generics available in the US since November 2011.

Pfizer had won a battle to extend the drug's patent in Europe until May, 2012, however due to a paediatric version of the product.

In March, Ranbaxy launched generic Lipitor in Germany, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands ahead of this date after reaching an agreement with Pfizer.

As reported in its first quarter financial results, these launches have already hit Pfizer's sales of the drug in Europe, and these are expected to fall sharply over the course of the year.

9th May 2012

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