NHS Could Save £350 Million Yearly From Generic Lipitor

The admittance of generic forms of Pfizer’s cholesterol lowering drug, Lipitor (atorvastatin), onto the UK market could in time save the NHS £350 million annually.

According to the Generic Manufacturers’ Association, the loss of Lipitor’s patent protection in the UK and the accessibility of lower cost generic forms “will mean prices dropping significantly in the next year.”

The National Health Service currently spends roughly £400 million per year on Lipitor but, by the end of 2012, the cost of the treatment could be reduced by as much as 85%, which, if sustained, equals to an annual saving of approximately £350 million, the Generic Manufacturers’ Association noted.

Generic Lipitor and other patent expirations “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 £9 billion a year through the availability of generic medicines,” commented Kim Innes, the Commercial Director at Teva.

Generic Value

Warwick Smith, director-general of the BGMA, stated that the loss of Pfizer’s exclusivity for the cholesterol drug is not only “hugely significant” for the NHS but also highlights “the valuable role generic drugs play in patient care in the UK.”

“The true value of generic medicines lies in making the drugs bill affordable for the NHS and driving innovation through competition to originator products after patent expiry,” he added.

While patent protection is vital for drug corporations to guarantee a return on their original investment, it is the generic rivalry that sustains innovation, as it essentially encourages organisations to create new products.

The savings that the NHS makes when generic products enter the marketplace then allows the NHS to devote money to new technologies and medicines, consequently encouraging the pharmaceutical industry to invest in research and discovery, Smith observed.

While 67.4% of all medicines distributed by the health service are generics, they make up only 29.6% of the total expenditure, and without generics, the NHS drugs bill would be about twice the current level, he commented.

Teva Launches Generic

Earlier this week, Teva UK announced that they would be launching the first UK generic version of Lipitor, with a 93% price drop from Pfizer’s branded version of the drug.

The largest price for a 28-pill pack of the first UK generic version of 80mg atorvastatin has been set at £2.26, in comparison to £28.21 for the branded version, Lipitor.

Kim Innes announced that Teva are “delighted to be able to launch atorvastatin in the UK on the day its patent expires.”


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