Wyeth discounts Pristiq for big sales push

Think the latest-and-greatest drug would naturally be the most expensive? Think again. Now that its Pristiq antidepressant is finally approved, Wyeth is offering a cut-rate price to woo patients over from Effexor XR. And these hip-to-Effexor XR patients might just buy, because Pristiq is essentially a "new-and-improved" version of that drug.

Effexor XR, remember, will be vulnerable to generic competition in 2010--so it behooves Wyeth to switch patients to Pristiq, even at a 20 percent discount off the older antidepressant. And to switch as many as possible, Wyeth plans to make Pristiq the main focus of its primary-care sales force, a Wyeth SVP told Dow Jones.

Of course this pricing tactic is nothing new: Other pharma companies use it, especially now that so many blockbuster drugs are approaching the patent cliff. Seems counterintuitive to undercut your own drug, but unusual times call for unusual measures.

- see the story at the WSJ Health Blog
- check out Pharmalot's coverage

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