Branded drug: Lipitor
U.S. sales: $2.23 billion
Companies: Daiichi Sankyo/Ranbaxy Laboratories, $1.20 billion;
Watson Pharmaceuticals, $1.02 billion
Perhaps the biggest generics news of the last 12 months--arguably of the last 12 years--was the fall to generics of Pfizer's ($PFE) cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, the undisputed King of Drugs. Pfizer's elliptical white tablet, considered the best-selling drug of all time, last year hit sales of $12.5 billion. This year, look for less than half that from Pfizer's Lipitor sales.
For generics makers, the knockoff was an instant blockbuster. In fact, two generics makers sold more than $1 billion apiece in the U.S. from Lipitor copycats. Indian generics giant Ranbaxy Laboratories, which is controlled by Japan's Daiichi Sankyo, had 180-day exclusivity through May of this year. That was a tremendous boost for Ranbaxy, which has been laboring under tight FDA oversight for earlier submitting falsified data and having serious manufacturing problems. By April, Ranbaxy was pumping out 17.5 million pills a week and the result was a huge first quarter for the company. Its North American sales doubled during the quarter to $375 million. Net earnings were $234.3 million. IMS Health reports that for the 12 months that ended June 30, Ranbaxy sold $1.2 billion worth of the product in the U.S. Sales for Watson Pharmaceuticals ($WPI), which produces the authorized generic for Pfizer, haven't been shabby either. It sold $1.02 billion of its Lipitor knockoff in that same 12-month period.
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