The generic version of Lipitor (atorvastatin), the top-selling anti-cholesterol drug whose global sales once peaked at $13 billion, is turning out to be a money spinner for Ranbaxy in the US.
That lays to rest fears regarding the drugmaker’s deal with Israel’s Teva to market it in the US.
In a conference call with analysts on Wednesday, Arun Sawhney, MD and CEO of Ranbaxy, said that the company, whose exclusivity on generic Lipitor is valid till May-end, now has a 47% market share, ahead of innovator Pfizer and Watson Pharma which holds the authorised generic.
From June, the US market would be thrown open to countless generic drugmakers.
Analysts said Ranbaxy could earn revenues of around $360 million during the December 2011-May 2012, much lower than $550 million predicted earlier.
Ranbaxy was the first player to launch the generic version, thanks to its first-to-file (FTF) status. It is the only player allowed to market the patent which was held by the US-based Pfizer till November-end.
“We are well placed to maintain a strong position and to deal with competitors,” said Sawhney.
Industry trackers, however, said the 47% share is “decent” but not exceptional as FTF-holders typically scoop up as much as 60-70% of the market.
“It remains to be seen whether the company would be able to achieve that much by May-end. Once other competitors enter, the market gets highly fragmented,” said an analyst from a brokerage.
In the past, Ranbaxy had monetised its FTF on anti-viral drug Valtrex and attained an over 60% share during the exclusivity period. This time round though, it might not be able to replicate that level of success with Lipitor, said analysts.
For, Pfizer is strongly working towards consolidating its position, while Watson is maintaining its presence. Also, Pfizer has been quick in introducing discounts and incentives for patients to retain their loyalty to the branded Lipitor.
Till now, Ranbaxy’s price erosion has been around 70%. But Sawhney said there would be volume expansion.
“Post exclusivity period, the price erosion can be to the tune of almost 90%. So, the firm has to achieve all it wants now,” said Ranjit Kapadia, senior vice-president, Centrum Broking.