Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. confirmed its launch of generic Lipitor, Pfizer Inc.’s blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug that lost patent protection Wednesday, under an exclusive agreement with the pharmaceutical giant.
Under the terms of their five-year deal, Pfizer will manufacture and supply Watson with all dosage strengths of the generic and Watson will market and distribute the product in the U.S. Pfizer will receive a share of the net sales from Watson. Other terms weren’t disclosed.
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. is also expected to launch a generic version of Lipitor this week, though there have been some questions surrounding Ranbaxy’s ability to launch due to regulatory scrutiny of its manufacturing.
For the year ended Sept. 30, Lipitor had sales of about $7.8 billion.
Meanwhile, Pfizer is striking deals with drug-benefit plans and providing discounts to patients to encourage continued use of branded Lipitor. Longer-term, it will seek to sell an over-the-counter version of Lipitor, which, if successful, would counter the generic market and potentially revive the brand.
Pfizer—the world’s leading drugmaker by sales—has been aiming to boost its pipeline through collaborations, licensing deals and small acquisitions while reducing its own research and development outlays.
The company, which had grown through megamergers including its $68 billion Wyeth acquisition in 2009, recently has been aiming to narrow its focus, including plans to shed its animal-health and nutritionals businesses.