Ranbaxy grabs largest share of US Lipitor mkt

Written by Soma Das | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 29 2012, 06:23am hrs
Ranbaxy Labs has managed to grab the largest market share of cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, racing past Pfizer in the US market, partially due to the great discounts it had offered. The tally in early February shows that Ranbaxy had cornered 42% of marketshare of Lipitor sales, a convincing lead over Pfizer which commands nearly 36% of total marketsize of the cholestrol drug that earned $7.9 billion in the US market in 2010.

A third player, the US-based drugmaker Watson, which had been authorised by Pfizer to market a generic version of the drug, is left with 22% of marketshare, according to IMS.

The picture is different from how the market-share break-up looked in the first fortnight of the December 2011, a week and half after the patent protection of the bestselling drug expired and two new generic versions of the drugby Ranbaxy and Watson were launched in the US market.

Both Pfizer and Watson had maintained around 43-44% of marketshare, while Ranbaxy had garnered just about 13% of the pie. Since then, it had steadily consolidated its share in the Lipitor pie despite unprecedented strategies adopted by Pfizer to retain its marketshare. Even after leaping past Watson in late December and Pfizer in January, it has been steadily improving upon its performance, widening the gap between its own marketshare and the rivals in the US market. The top management of the company said the company is committed to protect its market-share even after the exclusivity period ends in May.

Analysts said Ranbaxy had achieved this feat partially by offering deeper than usual discounts but this may not be great news for other generic drugmakers that are waiting in the wings to bring their generic versions of their drugs once the period of 180 days of exclusive marketing ends.

Ranbaxys top management indicated a 60-70% price erosion in generic Lipitor during its exclusivity launch in early December 2011. This price erosion is higher than the typical 40-50% normally witnessed during exclusivity periods, said Ravi Agrawal of Standard Chartered Equities Research. Such higher than anticipated price erosion could shrink the overall marketsize of the drug, which may adversely affect the new players such as Dr Reddys and Lupin, expecting to enter the fray in May, once the exclusive marketing period ends, he added.

Agrawal expects Dr Reddys and Lupin to earn between $20 and 40 million each from the Lipitor generic opportunity in financial year 2013. This would approximately form 5% of Dr Reddys US sales and 10% of Lupin's generic drug revenue from US.

Ranbaxy didn't divulge how much Lipitor has already contributed to its kitty in the first month and how much of that amount has it shared with Israeli drugmaker Teva owing to a certain undisclosed arrangement. A few analysts, however, guess that generic Lipitor could already have contributed $260 to 300 million in the first month of sales, even though this figure could include stocks released from the company but yet unsold in the retail market.

According to a calculation of some experts, Ranbaxy could have paid Teva nearly $40-50 million for the period ended December. Most analysts now reckon that the company could end up earning somewhere upwards of $450 million by marketing generic Lipitor in its exclusivity period.