How to sell a statin? Pfizer and AstraZeneca have different ideas

It's a tale of two statin drugs and their attempts to keep market share--or build it, as the case may be. Pfizer ($PFE) rolled out a new version of its Lipitor copay discount program, and this time, it applies to patients covered via certain U.S. government programs.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca ($AZN) has teamed up with Cigna to allow patients easier access to its still-on-patent statin, Crestor. And the two partners are relying on Big Data to do it.

The two programs are quite different, though their aims are basically the same: sell a statin drug. Pfizer's copay program--which allows some privately insured patients to pay just $4 per month for their Lipitor--is of course designed to keep patients from defecting to one of the many generic versions. It's the company's latest attempt to protect Lipitor market share; though the drug fell off patent in November 2011, it's still a blockbuster product for Pfizer, and Pfizer intends to keep it that way. You can get the details here from FiercePharmaMarketing.

AstraZeneca, meanwhile, wants to capture as much revenue from its big-selling Crestor as possible before it goes off patent in 2016. And Lipitor--or its generics--is one obstacle in its way. As Lipitor copies hit the market, AZ offered copay discounts to keep Crestor patients in the fold. And now, it's working with Cigna to make it easier for patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease to get Crestor, which is seen as a more powerful alternative to some of its fellow statins. It's the first program of its kind, and one Cigna is ready to brag about. Check out the rest of the story here.