Pfizer asks docs to sign ‘Dear Insurer’ letters

Pfizer is enlisting doctors in its efforts to stave off generic erosion of Lipitor. The company has supplied doctors with a CD containing letters they can send to pharmacists and insurers petitioning them not to switch patients from Lipitor to a generic statin, according to USA Today. Public Citizen’s Sidney Wolf told the paper that the company was using doctors as “human shields” to protect its business. “I would say it’s unethical,” said Wolf. Merck’s Zocor (simvastatin) went off-patent last June. Lipitor, which loses exclusivity in 2010, is also struggling to preserve its market share against branded competitors Vytorin, from Merck/Schering-Plough, and Crestor, from AstraZeneca. Pfizer scored a Lipitor patent victory yesterday when The Supreme Court declined to intervene in Ranbaxy Laboratories appeal of a lower-court ruling upholding a Pfizer patent for Lipitor. Indian generics firm Ranbaxy was seeking to sell a generic version of Lipitor. The court's decision not to get involved appears to settle the matter in Pfizer's favor.