On May 23, 2012, Pfizer announced its teaming with EatingWell magazine to launch a mobile app for patients on Lipitor.

Eight days later, on May 31, 2012, generic versions of Lipitor will hit the market.

Lipitor is the best-selling drug in pharmaceutical history, to-date. Sales of the product top $125 billion. While generic atorvastatin has been available in the U.S. since November 2011 from two manufacturers, low prices for the generic will drop to $10 or less for a month’s supply at the end of May.

This is Pfizer’s first foray into a prescription drug-affiliated app. The free mHealth app, Recipes 2 Go, was launched as part of the Lipitor Smart Living website and is available from the Apple App Store for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and for Android phones and tablets from Google Play. The app includes recipes from EatingWell magazine, a shopping list tool, a timer for cooking, and a recipe search finder. The app also has a copy of the Lipitor $4 co-pay card where patients enrolled in the Pfizer Lipitor for You program can keep their ID and use the digital card for refilling Lipitor prescriptions at the pharmacy.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Readers of Health Populi familiar with my work know that I’ve studied, tracked, and advised mobile health start-ups and initiatives since their inception. I am no newcomer to this space, having written an early paper on the subject for the California HealthCare Foundation, How Smartphones are Changing Healthcare for Patients and Providers, in April 2010.

With the patent cliff hitting many pharma Mega Brands in and beyond 2012, pharmaceutical manufacturers have the opportunity to create tight bonds between patients and the drug brands they take to manage chronic conditions. However, those relationships take time to develop, and are built on trust gained over time. Is one week time enough for Pfizer to prove its love and support for patients who might download the Recipes 2 Go app?  Cheap atorvastatin hits pharmacy store shelves and mail order channels on May 31st. Pfizer has known about generic Lipitor’s launch for several years.

I’ve worked with pharma companies for years addressing this issue. As a forecaster, my work is made difficult when there’s an uncertainty to throw into a future scenario, such as whether employers will continue to sponsor health insurance, how Republican Executive and Legislative branches would re-shape health reform, or how quickly consumers will get engaged in their health care. These uncertainties compel people in my line of work to do scenario planning where we consider many alternate futures in order to develop a strategy that will play out robustly across different future states.

However, prescription drugs going generic have a date-certain. These are not uncertainties. The opportunity for branded pharma to more closely engage with patients and provide value-added services surrounding a pill or therapeutic regimen has been there for years. The fact that very, very few brands have allocated resources to do this strategically and holistically is unfortunate, but is also a reality.

Will a recipe app, co-branded by a stellar cooking magazine (to which I subscribe, FYI), be a Holy Grail for patients dealing with hypercholesterolemia? Will it build trust and value in the brand worth a marginal monthly nut of $20, $30, $50, beyond the generic drug price at discount retail pharmacy or mail order?

Ask me on June 30th, 2012, a month after Lipitor goes generic en masse. My forecast as of today, given what I’ve learned from watching previous generic launches of highly popular branded drugs, is not a happy one for Pfizer shareholders.

4 Comments on Statins, food and a mobile app: Pfizer and Eating Well partner up as generic Lipitor hits the market

John Mack (@pharmaguy) said : Guest Report 9 years ago

Jane, Is This an FDA-regulated Drug Ad? The description of this app in the iTunes online store mentions LIPITOR and the FDA-approved indication, which is managing high cholesterol. My question: Does this iTunes page qualify as an prescription drug ad that must comply with FDA regulations regarding fair balance (ie, Important Safety Information or ISI)? If it does qualify, then it violates FDA regulations because the page does not include ANY fair balance or a link to the full prescribing information. Did Pfizer submit this page to FDA for regulatory review? Did it submit the page to its own MLR (medical/legal/regulatory) people? For more on this, see my blog post: http://pharmamkting.blogspot.com/2012/05/recipes-2-go-pfizers-lipitor-branded.html

Dr Sarfraz said : Guest Report 9 years ago

I agree with Huge Miller and further add; the role of changing the lifestyle, exercise, good sex and a medium pace in eating habits is the mainstay for a normal person.No hurries, worries and curies for a good life.The prevention of Athresclerosis can be achieved by the regular use of Aspirin 75 mg.The use of lipid lowering drugs as a preventative tool of heart attack is debatable.The near future will speak the truth , when there will be a new launch by these pharmaceutical Mafia.

Hugh Miller said : Guest Report 9 years ago

Jane and others: There is no need to take a statin of any kind. Statins are successful at reducing cholesterol, but they do not reduce the risk of heart attacks more than 1%-2%. One very little known fact is rarely discussed but is reported in Athlersclerosis (medical journal): 40-60% of all hospital admissions for heart attacks are for patients with low to normal choesterol levels,i.e. Tim Russert of NBC News! High cholesterol is not a root cause of heart attacks as we are told and have come to accept as truth. It is a big fat lie. Pharmaceutical companies have manipulated clinical trial risk reduction statistics for years and continue to do so to sell products, not improve health. The real root causes of heart attacks are nutritional deficiencies and/or toxins/foreign substances in our bodies that can be corrected with diet, exercise, and non-toxic supplements.Pharmacetical companies have long used relative risk reduction statistics as opposed to the more meaningful abolute risk reduction statistics to measure the effectiveness of their products. The sale and use of statins to reduce the risk of heart attacks is one of the biggest frauds that the medical establishment and Big Pharma has ever pulled-off in the history of healthcare. We have been spending all these billions unnecessarily. And by the way, the reason deaths from heart attacks have been redued so dramatically in recent years has nothing to do with statin use as many claim. The real reason is that emergency care and expensive procedures to keep people from dying are better than they have ever been. But the number of heart occurrences has still been growing.

Pfizer offers Lipitor app as generics hit market | mobihealthnews said : Guest Report 9 years ago

[...] economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn has a must-read column this week over at Health Populi. She noted that this Wednesday Pfizer announced a partnership with the magazine EatingWell to [...]

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