Plavix to Follow Lipitor as a Generic Blockbuster

Plavix will soon follow Lipitor and go off patent, opening the door for a generic alternative for cardiovascular disease and stroke patients.

This article originally appeared online at, part of the HCPLive network.

You may recall the recent post on the upcoming effects of Lipitor losing its patent next year. Plavix, the #3 selling drug in the US in 2009 is set to follow not too far behind. The patent expires sometime in 2011, and should be available as a generic in 2012. This is more great news for US cardiovascular disease patients, as the monthly cost of Plavix is >$170. / month retail, and is a critically important drug to many patients with coronary artery stents and TIA or stroke.

Bristol-Myers Squibb had annual sales of over $4 billion in 2009, and this should go down dramatically after a generic is available. Unlike some of the other top-grossing drugs like #2 Nexium, there is not really a good generic alternative to Plavix. This makes many patients essentially hostage to taking this drug. Despite its unique niche, Plavix remains expensive not just to the healthcare system as a whole (ie, its real cost), but to individual insured patients, because it is usually at a high tier of copay on most insurance plans.

Plavix has a new competitor on the block: Effient has come to market in the last year, and it holds some promise as useful in some patients where Plavix cannot be used, but is unlikely to hold a big market share after Plavix loses its patent.

Again, let’s cheer the savings coming up soon as yet one more blockbuster goes generic.

Ed Pullen, MD, is a board-certified family physician practicing in Puyallup, WA. He blogs at — A Medical Bog for the Informed Patient.