Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency, a coalition of independent pharmacists and pharmacy owners, provided the documents, which show that Coventry Health Care patients will pay a reduced generic co-payment Dec. 1, but will continue to receive Lipitor.
Lipitor, the world's best-selling drug, faces generic competition for the first time in December. Watson Pharmaceuticals, a Parsippany, N.J.-based generic drug company, will exclusively manufacture generic atorvastatin for the six months starting Dec. 1.
One memo issued by Franklin Lakes, N.J.-based Medco states that generic atorvastatin will not be covered for Coventry Health Care members. There are approximately 1.2 million fully insured members.
Medco implemented a "custom plan design" for one client, according to Medco spokesman Lowell Weiner. Weiner said in an email that Medco will "continue to pursue strategies that maximize value to clients and lower costs to consumers" as more brand-name drugs lose patent protection.
Another letter sent by MedImpact Healthcare Systems, a San Diego-based PBM, to an unnamed pharmacy says that it will “preferentially cover the brand version of Lipitor over generic atorvastatin” from Dec. 1 until May 31, 2012. MedImpact members will also receive the brand-name drug while paying a tier 1 co-payment.
Pfizer said in a statement that the plan, which provides Lipitor at or below generic costs, will not increase costs for most of the payers that participate in its program.
“In this 180-day period, typically payers do not receive a significant cost-savings by utilizing a generic,” Pfizer said in the statement. “Through innovative contracts with health plans and PBMs, total costs to payers are less than a generic option and patients receive Lipitor at co-pays comparable to generics.