Cigna cuts patients' costs for Lipitor

Cigna is giving patients and Pfizer a break today. The insurance giant bumped Lipitor up to preferred status on its formulary, cutting copays at a time when the economy is slowing. That's likely to help patients stay on Lipitor, rather than switch to a cheaper generic to save money.

And it helps Pfizer, of course, because the drugmaker is trying to milk as much cash as it can out of the Lipitor franchise before the drug goes off patient in 2011. The more patients it can persuade to keep taking Lipitor--or to switch to the med, as it's been lobbying for--the more money it can reap from the cholesterol powerhouse.

As you know, Lipitor lost a big chunk of scrips when Merck's Zocor went generic and patients switched to that less expensive option. Pfizer has been running studies in an attempt to show Lipitor's superiority to alternative cholesterol meds, hoping to hang onto as many patients as it can. And no wonder: Lipitor brought in more than $12 billion in sales last year for Pfizer, more than a quarter of the company's overall revenues.

- read the Cigna release
- check out the story in the Star-Ledger