Intense Battle Looms for Share of $13 Billion Statin Market

July 19, 2004

Campbell Alliance, the leading management consulting firm specializing in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, today released key findings from its recently completed multi-client study on the managed care environment for dyslipidemia medications.

The study, conducted with input from decision makers at leading managed care organizations (MCOs) and high-prescribing physicians, predicts that the anticipated patent expiration of Zocor and Pravachol in 2006 will mark a key turning point for the statin market, as new products compete with Pfizer’s (PFE) Lipitor and the newly available generics for market share.

“Once Zocor and Pravachol are available generically, MCOs will find it difficult to justify keeping multiple branded statins in a preferred position,” said Brian Levy, a Campbell Alliance consultant who co-authored the study.  “Our research suggests that a significant number of influential plans will narrow access to one preferred branded product.  And that spells trouble for a lot of brands.”

Small players, such as Advicor and Lescol XL, will find it difficult to compete in this new environment, Levy said, but new entrants Crestor and Vytorin may be well-positioned to capture significant share.  AstraZeneca’s (AZN) Crestor has been saddled with safety concerns since its high-profile 2003 launch, yet perceptions of the product’s efficacy are extremely high among both managed care decision makers and physicians.  “The physicians were effusive about Crestor,” said Levy.  “Many are seeing LDL lowering with Crestor that is comparable to Lipitor, yet at lower doses.  This may help Crestor establish a reputation as a more cost-effective option—making it very attractive to managed care.”

Vyotrin, to be launched later this year by a joint venture between Merck and Schering-Plough, also represents a viable competitor in the marketplace, according to the study.  Differentiated from Lipitor and Crestor due to its combination of Zocor and Zetia, two cholesterol-reducers that each have their own mechanism of action, Vytorin may offer managed care and physicians a way to meet increasingly aggressive treatment guidelines, especially for patients unable to tolerate a high-dose statin.

“With the recent amendment to the NCEP ATP guidelines calling for further reductions in LDL for moderate- to high-risk patients,” said Levy, “the Merck/Schering-Plough joint venture will likely seek to position Vytorin as the safest and most effective way for physicians to get patients to goal.  The question becomes, however, can the joint venture compete with the likes of Pfizer?”

Ultimately, said Levy, the battle will likely come down to which product will play second fiddle to Lipitor.  As the bestselling medication in the world, with 2003 global sales in excess of $9 billion, Lipitor is unlikely to see dramatic reductions in share even after Zocor and Pravachol go generic.  Physicians’ vast experience with Lipitor and Pfizer’s world-class marketing efforts have kept the product growing at an extraordinary rate.  However, Zocor and Pravachol represent several billion dollars in sales.  Managed care would like to see that utilization transitioned to generics, but Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Merck/Schering-Plough will work diligently to capture those prescriptions.  According to Levy, “The battle should be heated."

Campbell Alliance’s dyslipidemia study provides strategic assessments of numerous cholesterol-reducing medications, including Lipitor, Merck’s (MRK) Zocor, Merck/Schering-Plough’s Vytorin and Zetia, Crestor, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMY) Pravachol, KOS Pharmaceuticals’ (KOSP) Advicor and Niaspan, Reliant Pharmaceuticals’ Lescol XL, Abbott Laboratories’ (ABT) TriCor, Sankyo’s WelChol, and Andrx’s (ADRX) Altoprev.

The firm conducts multi-client consulting studies each year to gather definitive information on the managed markets landscape in a cost-effective manner.  Campbell Alliance and its clients often use the data to help build product-specific managed markets strategies.  Campbell produces these Definitive Reimbursement Reports annually, covering hypertension, cholesterol, depression, and diabetes, and adds a number of categories each year. 

Campbell Alliance serves some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies throughout the US, Europe, and Japan.  It currently has offices in Raleigh, NC, Parsippany, NJ, and Woodland Hills, CA. 

inVentiv Health Consulting offers world class healthcare consulting services.

Media Contact:

Stephanie Koenig