AstraZeneca: "Casualty" Of Generic Zocor In Statin Wars


This morning, we got more evidence about the havoc generic Zocoris wreaking on all of the companies that make brand-name statins--the pills to fight cholesterol. AstraZeneca is the latest casualty. On a down day in the markets AZN is one of the biggest losers in the sector.

The company reported that in the third quarter, worldwide sales of the most potent statin on the market, Crestor, went up only $13 million dollars from the second quarter. But in the U.S., Crestor sales actually dropped sequentially from $353 million in the second quarter to $342 million in the third quarter. That ain't good. And to make matters worse, a privately-held company is seeking permission to make generic Crestor in the U.S.

Merck and Schering-Plough recently reported that sales of their cholesterol-combo pill, Vytorin, were flat sequentially. And sales of Pfizer's Lipitor went down again. Pfizer Chairman and CEO Jeff Kindler calls it an "unprecedented commercial assault" on his company's biggest franchise. The lack of robust revenue growth in this huge drug segment is obviously bad news for the big pharmas and their investors.

Cheaper, generic Zocor, though, is good for the insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, big firms that are looking to cut their prescription drug costs and patients on a budget. But don't assume it's a boon for the generic drug companies. Analysts say so many of them rush in to make copies of big-selling drugs like Zocor that prices fall precipitously.

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