Generic Lipitor to be sold in France
TRENTON, N.J. - The French drug maker Sanofi SA will sell a generic version in France of Pfizer’s Lipitor, the cholesterol fighter that is the world’s top-selling drug, with sales of nearly $11 billion a year.
Sanofi France has secured a license to manufacture the drug, known generically as atorvastatin. The deal allows sales within France only.
Sanofi won’t start sales until the drug’s patent in France expires on May 7. No companies are authorized to sell generic Lipitor in France before then. Neither Sanofi nor Pfizer disclosed terms of their deal.
New York-based Pfizer has been selling the pills under the brand name Tahor in France. In the United States, Lipitor’s patent expires Nov. 30. Two or more generic versions are expected to go on sale then.
US sales of Lipitor, which had peak global sales of about $13 billion, have declined slowly but steadily since a similar cholesterol drug, Merck & Co.’s Zocor, got generic competition in 2006. Many patients defected from Lipitor to that generic, called simvastatin, to take advantage of the lower cost.
Lipitor got generic competition in four sizable markets between May and December last year: Canada, Spain, Brazil, and Mexico.
In May, Pfizer reduced its 2012 revenue forecast to $63.5 billion, from $64.25 billion, partly because of the expected plunge in Lipitor sales. The company has been struggling to develop or acquire new drugs as more generics debut.