UnitedHealth to price Lipitor cheaper than generics

UnitedHealthcare will encourage its members to continue using Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor instead of the generic version after Lipitor loses patent protection at the end of the month. The health insurer will make out-of-pocket costs for the world's best-selling drug cheaper than generics, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Starting Nov. 30, UnitedHealth will make generic Lipitor a "tier 3" drug with out-of-pocket costs ranging from $50 and $60, and make branded Lipitor a "tier 2" with a co-pay of about $30.

"It's just a very sound approach to balancing affordable access to medicines and not paying a premium in fact for a generic," Tim Heady, who heads UnitedHealth's Pharmaceutical Solutions business, told the WSJ. "The whole value proposition of a generic is lower cost."

UnitedHealth is getting cheaper pricing from Pfizer for Lipitor, although the insuerer said it has negotiated low Lipitor prices for years and already gets the drug for less than the estimated initial cost generics.

Pfizer said it has a "contracting program" that allows it to offer Lipitor at or below generic cost during the first 180 days of limited generic competition, so a "significant number" of participating payers won't see increased costs, Pfizer spokesman MacKay Jimeson told the WSJ.

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article

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