Cholesterol drug market shifts

Big-name cholesterol meds are losing ground on two fronts. First, the Pfizer cholesterol drug Lipitor--its biggest seller--is falling victim to cost-cutting in the U.K. Primary Care Trusts are steering patients off the brand-name statin and onto simvastatin (generic Zocor). Lipitor scrips written by GPs dropped by 15 percent in 2007, or about $103 million. That's bad news for Pfizer--but also for other drugmakers, Pharmafocus notes, because it shows that the trusts are exercising their influence over prescribing habits.

Second, sales reps pushing Vytorin--the Merck/Schering-Plough combo pill that's attracted so much negative press lately--have been failing to get doctors' attention. Instead, Abbott's Simcor is turning heads. Twenty-three percent of primary care docs and cardiologists are listening to Simcor pitches, versus 20 percent for Vytorin. And despite the fact that Simcor was just launched, it's rapidly gaining ground on the popular Vytorin, nabbing one-third the number of scrips Vytorin did last month.

- see the Pharmafocus story
- check out the item at Pharmalot

ALSO: Back in 2003, when Abbott Laboratories raised the price of its Norvir AIDS drug, at least one company exec worried that the price hike might spur federal investigations, according to newly unsealed court documents. And of course, he was right. Report

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