Pfizer confirms global Lipitor review

NEW YORK: Pfizer said that several agencies are involved in a global pitch for Lipitor, the blockbuster cholesterol drug facing patent expiration in 2011.

NEW YORK: Pfizer said that several agencies are involved in a global pitch for Lipitor, the blockbuster cholesterol drug facing patent expiration in 2011.

MacKay Jimeson, media relations manager for Pfizer, confirmed the review. He declined to provide further comment but noted that reviews "ensure that we have the best teams in place to support our products."

The global RFP focuses on the loss of Lipitor's US exclusivity in November and its impact on Pfizer, say sources. The US market generated almost half, or $5.4 billion, of the drug's sales in 2009.

Sources said the two-day pitching process started December 13 in New York. One source said the scope of work includes developing a program to maximize brand performance, corporate positioning, and a key opinion leader (KOL) strategy.

Weber Shandwick is the incumbent on the Lipitor global account. Before the firm won the business in 2006 after a competitive bid, Pfizer worked with WPP Health Success, a consortium of WPP Group-agencies that included Cohn & Wolfe, Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, and Feinstein Kean Healthcare.

Laura Schoen, president of global healthcare at Weber Shandwick, declined comment, referring questions to Pfizer.

Lipitor accounted for $11.4 billion in sales for Pfizer in 2009, which made up almost 23% of the pharmaceutical giant's total revenue. Global sales for the cholesterol drug fell 11% to $2.5 billion in the third quarter of 2010 as generic versions of Lipitor became available in Canada in May and then in Spain in July. 

Analysts and media have long focused on how Lipitor's patent expiration will affect Pfizer. The loss of US exclusivity for the cholesterol fighter was a key topic in recent news reports about the unexpected departure of Pfizer's chairman and CEO Jeffrey Kindler last week. 

Pfizer announced December 13 that George Lorch, an independent director since 2000, had been named non-executive chairman of the board of directors.

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