Lipitor: Loser

Big pharma analysts keep close tabs on prescription trends. Many of them issue weekly reports to clients about what's up, what's down, what's holding steady. Investors use the data as a leading indicator for what quarterly sales and profits might look like. So, check out what A.G. Edwards' Joe Tooley is writing in his most recent "Weekly Prescription Trends" report.

Tooley titles it, "Lipitor Continues to Decline, Can Simvastatin (the generic version of Zocor) Surpass It?"

He goes on to write, "Simvastatin Still on Course to Catch Lipitor" (the bold type is his emphasis). "... (Merck's) Zocor and simvastatin now hold a 23.9% total prescription share. Lipitor, on the other hand, has declined from a 41.8% total prescription share last year to a 33.5% share now. Unless Pfizer can significantly change Lipitor's trajectory it appears to be only a matter of time before simvastatin becomes the market leader in the cholesterol-lowering market."

You may recall that in its first-quarter earnings release, Pfizer said for the first time that Lipitor sales possibly could be down modestly this year. Nonetheless, it is still by far the world's top-selling drug. A bunch of companies, including Israel's Teva Pharmaceuticals and India's Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, make generic simvastatin.

Tooley's data are based on numbers from IMS Health (a company that monitors prescriptions) and AG Edwards estimates. AGE or one of its officers has a long position in PFE.

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