Branded drugs can be made only by the company that holds the patent and Pfizer makes Lipitor. After the patent has expired, the drug becomes “generic” and can be made by any manufacturer, meaning the price drops substantially. About eight in every 10 drugs prescribed by GPs in England are generics and statins, in particular, have been targeted by policy-makers to reduce costs.
Prof Liew studied data from almost 40,000 patients in Holland who were switched from Lipitor to simvastatin in the first three months of 2009. One third of patients ended up with a lower equivalent dose of simvastatin. The study was funded by Pfizer.
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